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Oct 22 2021
Oct 22

Neil Young once famously sang, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”, and it still reverberates loud enough in our ears when we think of an end, end of something colossal. Drupal 8 is less than a month away from hanging up the boots. Drupal 8, by no stretch of imagination, has faded away though. Rather it has traversed an amazing journey and left behind a legacy that will be impactful for the future of Drupal 9 and later versions.

Like all great things, Drupal 8's end of life date is nearing. Basically, when a version of Drupal reaches its end of life, the Drupal Community stops all the operations around it, that is, simply put, stops working on it and doesn’t provide free support. And, the core development comes to a halt where no new features are added and no bugs get fixed. So, we definitely have more than just a few questions to ponder over and make business critical decisions. Let’s jump on them right away.

November 2, 2021: Farewell Drupal 8!

On this day, Drupal 8 will be marked an end of life product before the release of Drupal 9.3.0. Drupal 8’s largest third party dependency is Symfony 3 which is going to be termed end of life in November 2021. Moving to Symfony 4 is not an option here since that would break the backward compatibility with previous versions of Drupal 8.

More on the reasoning behind Drupal 9’s release schedule here in the official documentation.

Why is Drupal 8 end of life before Drupal 7?

Simply put, upgrading from Drupal 8 to 9 is a cakewalk in comparison to upgrading from Drupal 7 to 8/9. Therefore, Drupal 7 end of life has been extended and will get community-based security coverage till November 28, 2022 so that Drupal 7 site owners will get ample amount of time to upgrade. Drupal 7 will also get vendor extended support till November 2025.

What if I don’t upgrade before the end of life date?

Your website will still function normally, but only for a certain period of time. With Drupal Community no longer releasing security updates for Drupal 8, and the symfony communities not updating the code your site depends upon, something or the other will break after a while and there will definitely be security vulnerabilities discovered.

After Drupal 8 end-of-life, will we get an extension to upgrade to Drupal 9?

That’s a big NO. You will simply not get a grace period. You travel to a place, make memories and everything seems like a fairytale until you need to bid goodbyes. Like everything else in life, you have to confront the end of a beautiful time spent and move on to the next chapter.

Is there any vendor extended support for Drupal 8?

There is no vendor extended support for Drupal 8 after its end of life.

Why upgrade to Drupal 9?

If you are still on Drupal 8, upgrade to Drupal 9.2 before November 2, 2021 to keep your website safe and secure as the Drupal 9.1 security coverage will end right after the Drupal 8 end of life. More on this ultimate guide to Drupal 9.

What’s the difference between upgrading from Drupal 7 to 8/9 and Drupal 8 to 9?

While previous major version upgrades like Drupal 7 to 8 had a bigger architectural change, migrating from Drupal 8 to 9 is more similar to a minor version of Drupal core except for the removal of long-planned deprecations.

How are Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 different?

While using the admin UI or updating content, you won’t see any difference between Drupal 8.9 and Drupal 9.0 as they have the same features. The underlying technology stack that Drupal relies upon has been updated thereby making your site more safe and secure.

How to upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9?

Migrating from Drupal 8 to 9 is only a matter of update.php if your codebase is not using deprecated APIs anymore. Drupal 9 upgrade tools can further help in recognising and solving the deprecated APIs in your codebase. Working on Drupal.org with the maintainers of contributed projects and themes can be helpful to make those projects Drupal 9 compatible.

Learn more on Drupal 9 upgrade here:

How long do we have before Drupal 9 reaches the end of life?

Symfony 4, which Drupal 9 currently uses, will reach its end of life in November 2023, and that will spell the end of life for Drupal 9 too. With the new minor release schedule in place, upgrades to new major releases of Drupal isn’t a hurdle anymore. Much like Drupal 8 to 9 migration, Drupal 9 to 10 and future major version upgrades will continue to be a no-big-deal affair.

Oct 22 2021
Oct 22

Are you aware of the fact that Drupal 7 end-of-life (EOL) is fast approaching? There is not much time left till November 2022. So, it's now the high time for the site owners and developers to make some major decisions regarding the Drupal 7 upgrade. What upgrade paths for Drupal 7 do we have? Shall we move from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8? Or, directly move from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9? This article will help you take the next right step for your organization’s website and help your developers get ready for such a change of upgrade that will enable them to reach their career heights. 

Illustration diagram describing the migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 and Drupal 9


It’s almost the end of life(EOL) for Drupal 7

Due to the prevailing situation of COVID 19, Drupal 7's end-of-life (EOL) date has changed from November 2021 to November 28, 2022. But here the important point is are you still working on Drupal 7? Because if you are doing so, it’s the right time to think about the further upgrades as with the Drupal 7 end of life , it’s official support from the Drupal community will come to an end, which includes support for updates, security fixes and improvements from the Drupal Security Team and the Drupal Association. However, I also agree with the fact that Drupal 7 won’t immediately break on its EOL day as you would still get vendor extended support from a group of approved and vetted vendors. At the same time we also cannot deny the reality that Drupal 7 has already started to get less community support with the upgrades of Drupal 8 and 9. More importantly, it lacks official community security support which is a big concern for the site owners and the organizations. Since, websites store and use personal data such as CCPA and GDPR that needs to be protected by the organizations, the sites which do not stay up-to-date with security fixes can be prone to major security risks and vulnerabilities. Additionally, after Drupal 7 EOL, there won’t be any availability of new themes, modules and features that are significantly essential for every website. Therefore, Drupal 7 cannot be an ideal CMS platform to work upon for the next decade for sure. So, upgrading Drupal 7? 

What is the best time to upgrade?

It’s totally up to you how you want to go about the upgrade. You can either migrate via Drupal 8 or directly to Drupal 9, but the only important thing is that you need to start the migration process as soon as possible. So, if you plan to upgrade your site from Drupal 7, you will have to look upon some information architecture work in order to be well prepared for Drupal 8 or 9 upgrade. Once you migrate to Drupal 8, the shift to Drupal 9 will be very easy, you’ll have to check upon code deprecations, without worrying about the content migration. But wait a minute. Are you planning to wait for a much stable version of Drupal 9? If yes, that exactly won’t work as Drupal 9 seems to be handled much like that of an incremental point-release upgrade to Drupal 8. Infact, the core code which strengthens Drupal 9, is already disclosed in Drupal 8. Also, there aren't any new features in the Drupal 9.0 release, only the removal of code which already has been deprecated in Drupal 8’s minor versions. Drupal 9 plans to release new features every six months in minor releases with Drupal 9.1 and 9.2 already having been released with experimental Olivero frontend theme, early support to WebP image format and many other feature enhancements. Go for an upgrade to Drupal 9 today.

Making an upgrade to Drupal 8

Ideally you can go for an upgrade to Drupal 8 first, and then eventually to Drupal 9. Since your site requires functionality with modules which are found in Drupal 8 but not yet in Drupal 9 release, therefore, upgrading first to Drupal 8 can be very convenient. Also, on upgrading to Drupal 8 first, the upgrade to Drupal 9 will become a lot easier for you. 

Drupal 7 to 8 migration involves some important changes. So, basically some of the things you earlier required to do across contributed modules in Drupal 7, are included in Drupal 8 core now. Although, the process of implementing them might not be the same as some refactoring may be needed to get feature parity while you go for a migration to Drupal 8. The Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 migration issues are pretty well talked about by most of the Drupalists but it’s also a well known fact that when it’s done, the resulting site proves that it’s worth an effort.

Before upgrading your Drupal 7 site to Drupal 8, it is advisable to take some necessary steps that guarantee you a seamless upgrade process and help you get the suitable outcomes. 

Illustration diagram describing the migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8


Understanding the module of the source site

It is very essential that you understand how exactly your current Drupal 7 site is built before you start your upgrade. You need to recognize the core and contributed modules that are facilitated on your source Drupal 7 site. In order to do this, you can look after the listed modules on the Modules admin page (Administer > Site building > Modules) or make use of the Available Updates page at admin/reports/updates. Drupal 8 upgrade web user interface provides a summary of the modules which can be automatically upgraded or not. You can get more information on this analysis by referring to the Upgrade using the web browser page. By using an external service, the Upgrade Check module provides you a time estimate for an upgrade. 

Looking over the Known Issues Page

Since the path of upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 is yet experimental and some core modules may not completely have an upgrade path. It is advisable to go through the Known Issues Page while preparing for the upgrade.

Updating the Drupal 7 site to use the latest versions of core and contributed modules

The upgrade process demands you to update your old site to the latest minor version first. For instance, if you’re running your site on Drupal core 7.35, you will have to first update to Drupal 7.38. If you plan to migrate configuration or content from contributed modules automatically, then you need to use the latest versions of them. 

Need of prerequisites for upgrading from Drupal 7 to 8   

If you choose to upgrade to Drupal 8 using the browser user interface, you will be required to facilitate the ‘Migrate Drupal UI’ core module. Using Drush, if you migrate to Drupal 8, you will also require Drush 8 or Drush 9 and the three respective modules such as Migrate Upgrade, Migrate Tools and Migrate Plus.  

Enabling required core and contributed modules in Drupal 8

The Drupal migration procedure will not automatically install modules on the Drupal 8 destination site. Migrations that are appropriate for modules installed on both the destination site and source will be implemented. Consequently, you will have to first enable all core and contributed modules over the Drupal 8 site for the one you want to migrate configuration and content from the source site.

Configuration of the Drupal 8 site to be avoided

Since, the upgrade procedure will overwrite configuration on the Drupal 8 site, so you are not supposed to get involved in any configuration of the Drupal 8 site until after the upgrade procedure is finished. It means you do not need to create all the types of content and fields manually before running this upgrade. Rather as a part of the migration procedure, the migrate module will create them. Indeed it is the best practice to install Drupal 8 by using the Minimal install profile, as the Standard profile presents its own configuration which you may not wish to use. 

Content creation on the Drupal 8 shall be avoided

The upgrade procedure looks after the unique identifiers from the source site. For instance, if any user account had the unique ID 2 on the source site (hence was at the relative URI/user/20, after the upgrade the same user account will be at the /user/2 on the Drupal 8 site. If you had to create a user account over the Drupal 8 site other than the default administrator account, then it would be given user ID 2, while running the upgrade procedure, with user ID 2, the account from the source site would overwrite it. This can be applied to taxonomy terms, user accounts, node content, and any other types of content consisting of numeric IDs from your source site. Until all your source content gets completely imported, do not create anything on the Drupal 8 site manually to avoid loss of data.

Finally, performing the upgrade

There are two ways to implement the migration process. 

  • The first method is by using the browser user interface. It is the easiest method and can be done with the help of the user interface of the Drupal 8 site. Also, it provides lesser control across the migration.
  • The second method is by using Drush. This process is faster and robust and enables selective migration, yet needs additional modules, and also needs to be run from the command line.

Making an upgrade to Drupal 9

In this section let's find out how to upgrade Drupal 7 to Drupal 9. What is the best time to move from Drupal 7 to 9? Have you ever thought about Drupal 7 to 9 migration directly and skipping over Drupal 8 completely? Well you can do that since the Drupal 7 migration ecosystem is yet available in Drupal 9. In fact, Drupal 9 includes the similar migrate drupal module which you require to migrate to Drupal 8. You just need to be clear of the fact that all of the considerations while upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 must be applied even if you straight away move to Drupal 9 as well. There is a need to manage the migration planning, handle tooling and paradigm shifts and take into consideration the platform needs. Therefore, upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 can be really smooth and easy. 

If your site still hasn’t migrated to Drupal 8, then directly making a big shift to Drupal 9 is a convenient option as now the Drupal 9 is already released. 

Benefits of Drupal 9

This section will specify to you the benefits of Drupal 9. It can be considered as one of the most recent iterations of the Drupal framework and content management system.

Illustration diagram describing the benefits of Drupal 9


Accessibility of contributed module functionality in core

One of the most important benefits of Drupal 9 is that many of the things that require contributed modules in Drupal 7 are built into core now. This includes:

  • Web-services are built in JSON:API now.
  • You can now find the customized editorial workflows in core, providing functionality that would have required contributed modules such as Workbench Moderation or Workflow.
  • You no longer need to install a contributed module and third-parties to attain WYSIWYG editor since it is already built into core.
  • The views can be found in core, and many of the custom lists in core are entirely customizable views now.
  • Blocks are reviewed in order to be used again. For example, Bean in Drupal 7 enables the creation of customized and fieldable blocks.
  • You can use the Layout Builder module to create customized page layouts like the Display Suite or Panel  provided in Drupal 7.

Handling Drupal dependencies with the Composer tool

Drupal 9 widely uses third party libraries like Symfony for important functionality, instead of depending on custom Drupal-specific code for nearly everything. As a result, it further gives rise to the need of handling Drupla’s dependencies on those libraries. This can be better managed by a tool known as Composer which is a great dependency manager.

No requirement of features for configuration management

Some of the sites in Drupal 7 deploy configuration by making use of the Features module that always receive mixed feedback relying on the various insights of people. However, the majority of developers express that Drupal 9’s Configuration Management system, which enables database configuration to be exported to YML files, is far more easier than the Drupal 7 Features system. 

Secure PHP support facility

In comparison to Drupal 7 sites using deprecated versions of PHP, Drupal 9 uses the minimum of PHP 7.3 that helps in delivering the much required compatibility along with secure versions of PHP. More on why you need to upgrade to the latest version of PHP here.

Prioritizing Headless CMS

Drupal 9 focuses on Headless CMS to enhance the user experience with the strong front-end of the website that provides significant features such as create once and publish everywhere, API-First approaching, simpler resourcing and front-end freedom.

So, looking at the benefits of Drupal 9, many organisations are heading towards the migration process without much delay. Also, for your information, I would like to state the fact that it simply took a month to move from 0 to 60,000 sites on Drupal 9 whereas, it took 7 long months to reach 60,000 sites on Drupal 7.

Learn more about Drupal 9 here:

How to upgrade to Drupal 9

How to prepare your Drupal 7 or 8 site for Drupal 9? Let’s look at the upgrade process and get a clear understanding. 

Illustration diagram describing the migration to Drupal 9


1. Planning the migration process

If you’re planning to migrate your current site’s content into a secure and modern platform, then these three factors such as time and budget, developer skill set and release window will help in making the right choice.

Time and budget

You need to have a proper clarity about the time needed for replatforming and also the budget for your project. These plannings will help in preventing unexpected delays in your migration process. Also, you might wish to split your migration into various phases depending on the budget constraints within your organization. For example, if you find that getting the budget is simpler as a one-time-ask, then make a plan to get your complete migration, with any further additional site changes in just a single attempt. On the contrary, if budgeting over phases appears like a much better option, then accordingly spread your migration plan. Most importantly, you need to ensure that you plan the timelines in advance so that your project doesn’t extend overtime. 

Developer skill set 

Are your developers working on Drupal 7 for a long time? If the answer is yes, then they might face some difficulties while migrating to Drupal 9, since it will require them to learn new tools and techniques. The developers learning curve shall be factored into time and budget, not just because of the migration itself but also for the current development work and maintenance post the upgrade. You can partner with a well-known experienced Drupal development firm to plan and implement your migration in a much smoother and quicker manner. 

Release window

While planning your migration from Drupal 7 to 9, also keep in your mind that Drupal 7 is all set to reach its end-of-life in November 2022. As a result, you shall complete your migration process by then. If you have any doubt that your enterprise might not make it then you should plan for an Extended Support engagement in order to maintain your site security till you’re able to finish the migration. 

You might wish to plan the release window over key dates for your enterprise, and over many other support windows in your stack. For instance, supposedly, you’re a retailer and you might want to complete the migration before the end of Q3, so that you do not have to upgrade during the holiday initiatives. Talking about your stack, you will surely wish to plan around other important release windows like end-of-support for PHP versions, and upgrading towards Symfony 4.4. This is essentially important in the case where you necessitate upgrading dependencies to support your Drupal 9 migration. 

2. Understanding the architecture, features and design

Since the shift from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 is so significant, it can be a good time to revisit the information architecture of the site, perform a feature audit, and decide whether to make design changes or not. 

Are you planning to update your site’s information architecture?

Before you migrate to Drupal 9, you need to perform an audit of your current Drupal 7 site to get an understanding of what you would want to take forward and what you wouldn’t take along. For example, if you are using a taxonomy which was set many years ago, but currently doesn’t make any sense. So, presently, it can be a good idea to refine it for your site’s new version. Let’s look into one more example, supposedly, if you have set up a content type which you rarely used once or twice, and never used again. Then instead of migrating it, you can delete that content. 

Does your feature need changes?

As we know, it's been a decade since the release of Drupal 7, so, the features that seemed significant at Drupal 7's inception have certainly changed. Here, some questions come to mind like how have the feature requirements of your content editors changed? Has your site turned up to be media-heavy, and do your content editors require huge searchable image archives? 

Well many editors prefer the new Layout Builder experience for creating customized site pages. But this is something that doesn’t exist in Drupal 7 core, and is possibly better than what you get after extending Drupal 7 with contributed modules. On the contrary, Drupal 8 and 9 have built-in media handling and a WYSIWYG editor, eliminating the requirement for dozens of Drupal 7 contributed modules which do not always get along with each other, and emphasizing developers observation upon the editorial UX for a single authorized solution.

So, revisiting the necessities of your content editors and site users to identify the current features status in regards to usability or need of new features overall help in the upgrading process. 

Are you ready for a design update?

Have you refreshed your Drupal 7 site design? If you haven’t done that in years then the upgrade process can be a good time for a design refresh. You can plan for a design refresh after the upgrade is finished. 

3. Performing the Drupal upgrade

Since Drupal 8’ initial release, the process of migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 has improved but it can still be a very complicated and time consuming procedure for complex sites. 

Unlike the previous Drupal upgrades, Drupal 8 migration isn’t an automatic upgrade. Drupal 7 site’s configuration and content are migrated individually into a new Drupal 8 site. To automate the creation of migration files, there are tools available but if your site is a complex one which uses many contributed modules or a lot of custom code, you will go so far only with automated tools. You will have to revisit business logic and choose new options to attain results that are similar or even deprecate the use of Drupal 7 contributed modules and also custom code in your site to make a shift to Drupal 8 and 9. 

Keep in mind that whether you choose to upgrade to Drupal 8 and then Drupal 9, or directly migrating from Drupal 7 to 9, the process and the migration considerations will certainly be the same. 

Learn more about Drupal 9 upgrade here:

Get an insight through the following webinar where the significance of migrating to the later versions of Drupal 7 is explained.

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Making an upgrade to other CMS

Along with the options of Drupal 8 and 9, you also have the option to migrate your site to a different CMS before Drupal 7 reaches end-of-life. Backdrop CMS is a flexible, lightweight and modernized platform which is built on Drupal 7 architecture with significant improvements. This platform selects smaller budget projects which are majorly concerned with websites that provide content via traditional HTML pages. It also has its own security team which closely works with the Drupal security team. 

Conclusion

It’s a known fact that upgrading comes with a lot of challenges. But as you start planning, things fall in place with the right approach and process. In this article, I tried giving you all the possibilities for a smooth migration from Drupal 7 to its later versions which is absolutely necessary since we all are heading towards Drupal 7 EOL.

Oct 18 2021
Oct 18

Web accessibility is always prioritized by Drupal to provide its potential users a decent user-experience. Without any fail, Drupal has succeeded in providing an extensive range of modules that can be downloaded according to user convenience. This platform has consistently put efforts in bringing significant improvements in all its versions when it comes to accessibility modules. So, with this article, I will try to give you an insight of some of the recently refreshed or newly released Drupal modules that will efficiently help you in your various challenging projects. You will also get the answer to a common question that often comes to your mind, “Why Drupal for accessibility”?

To begin with, for your better understanding, I am describing the Drupal web accessibility modules by categorizing them based on their different functionalities. 

Illustration diagram describing drupal logo and accessibility symbol


Accessibility Auditing

Under this category Drupal has a sufficient number of modules that help in offering you an enhanced accessibility audit for your ambitious projects.

Illustration diagram describing drupal accessibility auditing modules


Editoria11y Accessibility Checker

Editoria11y can be termed as a user-friendly checker that provides support to the content authors and editors. Compatible with Drupal 9, it also looks after the three most vital needs of the content authors. 

  • It makes sure that the spellcheck is constantly running and rectifies the content mistakes when it occurs.
  • It makes sure that no mistakes take place in terms of Views, Layout Builder, Media and other modules, as it runs in context with them and it's checkers are also constantly on. 
  • It prioritizes content issues by fixing them, also ensuring that the page editors do not omit any issue that is easily rectifiable.

Monsido Tools

Monsido helps in smooth optimization of your website, also focusing on web governance, quality assurance, and accessibility compliance. Since accessibility laws differ from country and sector, this module helps in validating your site against the international standard, the WCAG 2.1. This module which is compatible with Drupal 9 provides your site with the scanning facility to identify any difficulties that might further hamper accessibility, and also enhances your search engine rankings by recognizing SEO errors. 

Siteimprove

Known as the most comprehensive cloud-based Digital Presence Optimization (DPO) software, Siteimprove enables you in creating high quality content, editing efficiently, driving better traffic, measuring digital performance and working towards regulatory compliance. Siteimprove plugins help in filling the gap between Drupal and the Siteimprove Intelligence Platform, also empowering contributors to test, fix and optimize their work without any hurdles. This module has Drupal 9 compatibility which is an added advantage.

CKEditor Accessibility Auditor

CKEditor Accessibility Auditor is a module that has Drupal 9 compatibility and it functions by clicking a button which runs the HTML_CodeSniffer Accessibility Auditor on the source code of the current content. With this module, you get to access a detailed view on any type of specific error, convenient success criteria and suggestions of techniques, and also upon what exactly triggered the error, once you run the auditor. 

CKEditor Accessibility Checker

CKEditor Accessibility Checker helps in enabling the Accessibility Checker plugin from CKEditor.com in your WYSIWYG. You can inspect the accessibility level of content that is generated in CKEditor, and resolve any accessibility concerns at the earliest. 

Sitemorse Lite - a11y Audit

Integrating Drupal with the inCMS service, this module enables to run the on-page accessibility audits and view results from the Drupal Administration interface. Sitemorse along with Ixis bring you a Drupal connector that provides the facility of checking your content quality before it gets published. Additionally, this module is compatible with Drupal 9 as well. With this module, the content editors can have more command over their content by making it more SEO friendly, accessible and resolving any issues that adversely affect the customer experience. 

Accessibility

The Accessibility module is a great support for the content authors and theme developers as it enables them to make their websites accessible to the users regardless of their capabilities and the technologies they prefer. It offers a set of available Accessibility tests that helps in scrutinizing the content for any accessibility errors that are published by the editors. Since this module uses the QUAIL jQuery plugin, it is not covered by Drupal's security advisory policy.

Accessibility Scanner

The Accessibility Scanner module enables you to use Drupal along with Axe toolset to opt for web accessibility scans on local and remote websites within the Drupal admin interface. It is compatible with Drupal 9 but isn’t covered by Drupal's security advisory policy.

USWDS Ckeditor Integration

The USWDS library has become an essential requirement for government websites. This module majorly focuses on making a user to smoothly utilize and inject USWDS classes and components into the ckeditor without even opening the source event for a single time. The USWDS Ckeditor Integration module is compatible with Drupal 9.

Quail API

This module is a complete rework of parts of the Drupal 6 project known as “Accessible Content”. It offers an API for the 3rd-party Quail Library to Drupal modules. Quail API has Drupal 8 alpha version as well.

Site builders

This is the second category under which Drupal offers exclusive modules to its users which enable them to design and create functional sites without the need of manual code editing.

Illustration diagram describing drupal site builders modules


Automatic Alternative Text

Automatic Alternative Text module allows you to automatically generate an image caption, while none of the Alternative Text has been given by the users. It is made possible by using the Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services API. This module offers one or even more descriptions of an image that are ordered as per their confidence. Although the default descriptions are in English, there is an option of translating them into other languages. This module is also compatible with Drupal 9. 

iFrame Title Filter

To comply with WCAG guidelines, the iFrame Title Filter helps in ensuring that embedded

Oct 08 2021
Oct 08

Drupal 8 was launched on November 19, 2015 to support the Drupal community with advanced features and functionalities. But now there is only three months left for it’s end-of-life (EOL) since we already have the end date fixed i.e. November 2nd, 2021. Well, what does Drupal end of life mean? End of life basically is the official date after which Drupal Community stops supporting a certain version of Drupal. This article can be considered as a guide where we will be able to clear all our queries in regards to Drupal 8 end-of-life (EOL). 

Illustration diagram describing the end of life of Drupal 8


Why November 2nd, 2021 marks end of life for Drupal 8?

As we have discussed above, Drupal 8's end-of-life is just a few months away, so are we making our necessary plans for migrating to Drupal 8’s later version? Let us get into a little more detail about Drupal 8’s end-of-life as it will help you in taking any major decisions about the migrating process. So, basically, after November 2nd, 2021, the end date of Drupal 8 version, no security patches will be available to you and along with that you won’t be receiving any vendor extended support program for Drupal 8. 

You will be surprised to know that Drupal 8’s End of Life happens before Drupal 7. Since, now you have an idea about Drupal 7 and 8 end of life, let us now look into the reasons why Drupal 8’s end of life takes place before Drupal 7. The first reason is that there was not much effort needed in the transition from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9. Since, Drupal 9 was not a reinvention of Drupal but rather it consists of two major differences i.e. updated dependencies and deprecating APIs. Second, Drupal 8 is majorly dependent on Symfony 3 and Symfony 3’s end of life is November 2021.

Is it still safe to stay on Drupal 8 even if the end of life is approaching?

If you decide to stay on Drupal 8 even after it’s end-of-life then you will have to go through some difficult consequences. Your website has to be compromised in terms of the security as the community support finishes with Drupal 8 end-of-life. You will have to purchase a vendor extended support program for Drupal 8 instead of depending upon the Drupal community to identify exploits and release patches. Additionally, as the developer community will no longer prioritize on enhancing the Drupal 8 version, so consequently, the existing modules will not receive any further necessary updates from the community as they will be busy focusing on Drupal 9 modules. Let me also tell you that with the growing time Drupal 8 sites tend to disappear and as a result, very few agencies will be available to offer Drupal support for these versions. Therefore, the best option you have is to upgrade to Drupal 9 without any further delay and get the maximum benefits out of it for your aspiring projects. 

What benefits will I get after migrating to Drupal  9? 

This section will give you a clarity about the important features that Drupal 9 offers. Once you take a look at them, you won’t regret migrating to this version from your present familiarised version of Drupal 8. 

Illustration diagram describing the benefits of migrating to Drupal 9


Availability of intuitive tools

Enhancing Drupal’s ease-of-use is something that is prioritized in this version of Drupal 9. Some of the promising improvements in regards to the strategic initiatives for Drupal core include automatic updates, Drupal 10 readiness and, decoupled menus.

Improving future upgrades

Drupal 9 focuses on making the upgrades smooth for future releases. There won’t be any need to replatform as new versions get released. 

Enabling you to stay close to innovation

With Drupal 9, you get access to the latest new feature releases that happen twice a year.

Front-end facilities

Drupal’s API-First initiative provides your site more versatility, allowing much better integrations, and also availing the much needed front-end flexibility. 

Providing richer media management

Drupal 9 enables you to embed remote content like YouTube and Vimeo videos. Additionally, it also features a Media Library module that helps users to add existing media assets. 

Accessibility of powerful visual design

Drupal 9 provides an improved Layout Builder which exclusively offers a single, powerful visual design tool for:

  • Layouts for templated content
  • Customization for templated layouts
  • Custom pages

Is migrating to Drupal 9 difficult?

By far we have got familiar with some of the important aspects of Drupal 8’s end-of-life, but now we will get through the most significant aspect i.e. the nature of the migrating process to Drupal 9. Is it easy or difficult? This question might be at the back of your mind, so here I am with the answer you are looking for. Since, Drupal 9 is built on Drupal 8, the technology in Drupal 9 is to be surely, convenient and effective as it has already been used in Drupal 8. Therefore, it gives an understanding that the upgrade to Drupal 9 will be easy. Let me explain this to you in a more detailed way. 

For Drupal core contributors, it means that there is a limited set of tasks to be done in Drupal 9 itself even before its release. Releasing Drupal 9 solely, depends on removing deprecated functionality and upgrading Drupal's dependencies, for instance, Symfony. This further helps in making the release timing more predictable and the release quality extremely robust.

For contributed module authors, the new technology is already available at their service, so they can easily work on Drupal 9 compatibility even before time (e.g., they can start with updating their media modules to use the new media library even before Drupal 9 gets released). Eventually, their Drupal 8 know-how remains extremely relevant in Drupal 9, since there won’t be any major change in building Drupal 9.

Finally, for Drupal site owners, it means that the upgrading process to Drupal 9 should be much easier in comparison to upgrading to Drupal 8. As Drupal 9 happens to be the last version of Drupal 8, with its deprecations being removed. So, there is no need to introduce new, backwards-compatibility breaking APIs or features in Drupal 9 except for the dependency updates. Until modules and themes stay up-to-date with the latest Drupal 8 APIs, the upgrade to Drupal 9 is set to be easy. Moreover, a 12 to 18 month period is enough for a smooth upgrade. 

Learn more about Drupal 9 upgrade approaches here:

What about Drupal 9 end-of-life?

With all the above discussion, you must be clear about the Drupal 8 end-of-life. But is that all you wanted to know? Or do you have any more curiosity to take a step forward and know about Drupal 9 end-of-life? Well, I'll give you a little information about it. Drupal 9 support ends in November 2023. Since, Drupal can be seen using a lot of Symfony code, the end of life for Drupal 9 will be when Symfony 4 reaches its end of life in November 2023.

The Drupal community is planning to release Drupal 10 ahead of the end date of Drupal 9. Therefore, Drupal 10 is estimated to be released in the mid of 2022. But they still haven’t fixed the Drupal 10 release date. And also we are far away from Drupal 10 end of life for sure. 

You can also see the release cycle overview to get more information on the possible release dates. 

Learn more about Drupal 9 here:

Illustration diagram describing Drupal End of Life Cycle

Conclusion

With this article, I tried giving you a clear picture of the various risks which you will come across if you choose to stick around Drupal 8 even after it’s end of life (EOL).  You could also possibly see all the important benefits that Drupal 9 has to offer. So, now hopefully, it can be expected that you will take the right step towards Drupal 9 upgrade. But yes, I do agree that upgrading comes with a lot of challenges. Therefore, the first convenient step for you will be to perform a readiness audit. As audit helps in recognizing the work and effort needed on your website, along with recommending you a seamless migration to Drupal 9.

Oct 04 2021
Oct 04

Drupal 7 release date was 5th January 2011. It was basically launched to provide the best web content management experience, and is now close to its end of life (EOL). Well, what does Drupal end of life mean? End of life basically is the official date after which Drupal Community stops supporting a certain version of Drupal. Initially, Drupal 7 end of life was scheduled for November 2021. But due to the impact that COVID 19 pandemic had over the businesses and budgets, the Drupal community has decided to extend the end of life till 28 November, 2022. Now, here comes the question: are you still a part of Drupal 7? If yes, what are your future plans? Have you thought about the risks that would arise after it’s EOL? If you haven’t then it's a serious matter you should think about. This article will help you to decide on whether you would want to stick to Drupal 7 or migrate to it’s later versions after the EOL.

Illustration diagram describing the end of life of Drupal 7

When’s Drupal 7 End of Life

It is completely up to you to opt for a migration or not but the truth is Drupal 7 is coming close to the end of life(EOL). I can understand that after hearing the fact that your website content management system is near to it’s end of life, will not excite you. But you should never forget that with change comes new opportunities. We will talk about the new opportunities that the later versions of Drupal bring in a while but before that Drupal 7 and 8 end of life dates are nearing. Due to the COVID 19 situation, the earlier dates of Drupal 7 EOL was changed by the Drupal community from November 2021 to November 28, 2022. So, you still have some time to decide what’s suitable for you and your sites since Drupal 7 end of life extended. On the contrary, Drupal 8 end of life is on November 2nd, 2021 and commercial extended security support is not planned for Drupal 8 since Drupal 8 to 9 upgrade is by far the easiest upgrade of the decade when compared to previous major upgrades. Therefore, looking into all the perspectives of Drupal 7 and it’s later versions, you should be able to confidently make your decision and avail yourself of a seamless content management system experience. 

Are you still on Drupal 7 and thinking what to do next?

Is Drupal 7 your current CMS? Certainly, it can be since it was the most popular version of Drupal that ever released. Since its release, there are around 570,000 sites who are still using some version of Drupal 7. It also included more than 11,000 contributed modules, 200 distributions and 600 themes. Well, yes the number is huge. It almost served us for a decade but now it's time for us to upgrade to the later versions of Drupal 7 which comes with a lot of amazing features and benefits. 

If you are still on Drupal 7, don’t panic, you will get the necessary community assistance since it won’t leave you in distress immediately after the upgrades. But still you need to know exactly how long will Drupal 7 be supported? And also about Drupal 7 security updates. 

Since a huge number of sites are seen using Drupal 7, the community decided to extend the community support until November 2022 also keeping under consideration the COVID 19 situation. Therefore, after the release of Drupal 9, Drupal 7 will be supported for around 2.5 years. Also, the Drupal Security Team looks forward to following the Security Team processes for Drupal 7 core and contributed projects.

Towards the end of the community support, you will be given the facility of signing up with vendors providing support until 2025. Drupal encourages organizations who are interested in delivering commercial Drupal 7 Vendor Extended Support to their customers by motivating them to join the program and fill up the application form for the Drupal 7 Vendor Extended Support team.

How secure is it to stay on Drupal 7?

This section will now tell you whether staying on Drupal 7 will be a good decision for your organization or not. But how will you take that decision? Here is a solution. You will need to craft a business case as it will help in estimating the initial and ongoing costs for making the upgrade investment in comparison to the current state of things, also estimating the revenue and settings. With a business case, you get an opportunity to project the break-even point for your upgrade investment. Although talking about future security threats, you can’t be sure of what exactly the future ongoing costs will be, since nobody can predict the occurrence of any security threats. It is essential to be aware of the risks that might come upon not upgrading from Drupal 7. Below are the risks that can be a threat to you and your organization. Take a look.

Security threats

Once Drupal 7 reaches the EOL, whenever securities arise in core or contributed modules, you won’t get much support from anyone to resolve them. Site maintainers will have to spend a lot of time searching for security issues and solving them. In case, if there are a lot of contributed modules in your Drupal configuration, the risks might even get increased. 

Integration threats

One of the risks that is observed is that while maintaining the status quo, the key integration starts failing. For instance, your Drupal environment might be integrated with any other platform, and a main API on that platform gets deprecated, since the Drupal module which connects to it is no more maintained, you will need to update the module and even write a new custom module in order to keep the integration working.

Functionality threats

After the end of life, the Drupal community reduces the amount of activity on Drupal 7 core and modules. As a result, the free updates won’t be available for you, and you will end up struggling to fix the bugs or hire any agency to resolve them on your behalf. And the problem in hiring someone new is that he/she won’t be much familiar with your project just like one of your maintainers will be. So, it will therefore lead you to additional investments.

Looking for an upgrade?

So, have you finally made up your mind to go for an upgrade? I hope you did. Since Drupal 9 got released on June 3rd, 2020, you can directly upgrade from Drupal 7 to 9. This option can be very convenient as it can assure you that your upgraded site will have maximum expected life. On the other hand, you can first go for an upgrade to Drupal 8, and then finally to Drupal 9. The reasons for upgrading first to Drupal 8 can be of the fact that your site is in need of functionality also provided by modules which are available in Drupal 8 but still not in Drupal 9 release. So, if you upgrade to Drupal 8 first, it will eventually make the upgrade to Drupal 9 a lot easier. At the time of upgrading a Drupal 7 site to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9, there are three vital tools that are being used. Have a look below.

  • The migrate module suite is provided by Drupal core to implement data/content migrations from Drupal 7. This further gives you a good opportunity to build your site in Drupal 8 or Drupal 9 in the best possible way, and also enables you to import content to the right places. 
  • The Drupal 7 version of the Upgrade Status module gives you a clarity by summarizing the Drupal 8 or Drupal 9 accessibility of the modules that are presently in use. 
  • The Drupal Module Upgrader can be termed as a command-line script which helps in scanning the source of a Drupal 7 module, identifies any code that needs updating to Drupal 8 or 9, points off to any suitable API change notices, and wherever possible puts an attempt to convert automatically, the Drupal 7 code to the Drupal 8 and 9 version. There has been an update in the Drupal Module Upgrader for not to use APIs which are not recommended in the generated code, that means if you’re going for an upgrade to Drupal 8 first, then your final upgrade to Drupal 9 will be very seamless. 

Learn more about Drupal 9 upgrade approaches here:

If not, what is stopping you?

Do you have any concerns about upgrading to the Drupal 8 and 9 version? Well there may be things that bother you. So, I will now discuss the exact reasons why the different sites delay in making this move. 

Illustration diagram describing the reasons why people hesitate for migrating to Drupal 8 and 9


There is a lack of Drupal 8 versions of Drupal 7 contributed modules

One of the major complaints that was made in the early Drupal 8 release cycle about Drupal 8 was that many Drupal 7 contributed modules no longer worked in Drupal 8. It took time for some contributed modules to be updated to Drupal 8. Also many of the Drupal 7 contributed  modules were no longer required in Drupal 8, as the functionality they delivered is a part of Drupal 8 core now. 

But you don’t need to be worried about Drupal contributed modules anymore. I will tell you why it is so. If you check the Drupal 8 Contrib Porting Tracker, you can see the status of the well known Drupal 7 modules and identify if they have got a Drupal 8 stable release or not? You will find that the missing modules are now available, or maybe you don’t even require some contributed modules as that particular functionality is managed now in some other way. 

Increased maintenance responsibility over the small teams

After the introduction of Drupal 8 and Drupal 9, the new paradigm in terms of Drupal development became more frequent and mainly consisted of smaller releases. This shows a big trend in software development, in which the iterative development signifies that frameworks make more frequent releases, and accordingly those releases are not supported anymore. Therefore, this gives a transparency that you will have to keep your site updated with the latest releases. But supposedly, if you are a part of a small team that is managing a big Drupal site, you might not have the expertise to maintain the updates. 

This concern can be taken care of with the help of some tools which will enable you to keep your sites updated. There is one module called Automatic Updates modules that can be beneficial for the small sites. This module is still in a work-in-progress, and isn’t yet able to support composer based site installs or contributed module updates. By using Drush and Composer, you can yourself manage the updates. 

Difficulty in learning new technology stack

The last complaint that discourages Drupal 7 from upgrading to Drupal 8 or 9 is that it is difficult to try new things. Because sometimes people refuse to learn and use new tools, the long-time Drupal developers face a lot of difficulties in learning new paradigms. Developers do not have much interest in acquiring knowledge upon a new stack, and might not want to develop in new versions of Drupal anymore. 

This challenge can be taken by the developers to find new career paths by learning different stacks and embracing change. It is essentially important for developers to upgrade to Drupal 8 or 9 since the EOL for Drupal 7 is approaching.

Look at the benefits of Drupal 8 and 9

In this section you will witness all the benefits of Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 that will help you take the right move towards upgrading from your current familiarised version of Drupal 7.

Illustration diagram describing the benefits of Drupal 8 and 9


Availability of Drupal 7 contributed modules in Drupal 8 and 9 core

One of the most significant advantages of Drupal 8 and 9 over Drupal 7 is that many of the things that necessitates contributed modules in Drupal 7 are now built into core. It includes:

  • Web-services are now built in JSON:API. 
  • You now find the customized editorial workflows in core, availing functionality which would have needed contributed modules like Workflow or Workbench Moderation.
  • You are no longer required to install a contributed module and third-parties to obtain a WYSIWYG editor as it is already built into core.
  • You will find the views in core, and many of the custom lists in core are completely customizable views now.
  • Blocks are reviewed so that they can be reused. For instance, Bean in Drupal 7 helps in creation of customized and fieldable blocks.
  • The Layout Builder module helps in creating customized page layouts, just like the Display Suite or Panel provides in Drupal 7.

To talk about Drupal modules in Drupal 9, only one third of the top 50 modules were ready after around 1.5 years with Drupal 8 but in regards to Drupal 9, simply, within 10 months after the release of Drupal 9, 90% of the top 50 modules were ready for Drupal 9 users. 

Illustration diagram describing the comparison of Drupal modules prepared both in Drupal 8 and 9Source: Drupal.org

Managing Drupal dependencies with the Composer tool

Drupal 8 and 9 broadly use third party libraries such as Symfony for significant functionality, rather than depending on custom Drupal-specific code for almost everything. Therefore, this gives rise to the need of managing Drupla’s dependencies on those libraries. This is well handled by a tool named Composer which is an amazing dependency manager. 

No need of features for configuration management

Many sites in Drupal 7 deploy configuration by using the Features module which always gets a mixed feedback depending on the different perceptions of people. But mostly, developers reveal that Drupal 8 and 9’s Configuration Management system, that helps database configuration to be exported to YML files, is way more easier than the Drupal 7 Features system. 

Availability of secure PHP support

Drupal 7 sites sometimes run on deprecated versions of PHP like 5.3. It is very essential for the Drupal 7 sites to move to PHP 7 but could be yet running on old, insecure and outdated versions of PHP. Currently, Drupal 7 works with PHP 7.3 but it has problems with PHP 7.4. With the passing time, since PHP continues to grow and deprecate older versions, you might realize that you won’t be able to run your Drupal 7 site on a secure version of PHP. Since Drupal 8 runs on PHP 7.0+ and Drupal 9 calls for a minimum of PHP 7.3, so as a result both are able to deliver the much needed compatibility along with secure versions of PHP. More on the significance of updating to the latest version of PHP here.

Accessibility of translation and localization

With Drupal 8, services like translation and localization can be well handled. Any language from the authoring side, and also the interface can be customized to numerous languages. Additionally, it can support business processes in terms of language translation and localization. For instance, facilitating integration with external translation service providers. More on Drupal’s multilingual capabilities here.

Facility of integrations

Drupal can be considered as a great foundation for both web content and digital experience management, since it allows integrations with your most preferred technologies. In fact, Drupal 8 has huge capacity to integrate with your present marketing technologies, also availing the authority and flexibility to select whichever technologies you prefer to use when integrating email marketing software or marketing automation. 

Focusing on Headless CMS

Drupal 9 prioritizes on Headless CMS to improve the user experience with the strong front-end of the website which provides important features like API-First approaching, create once and publish everywhere, easier resourcing and front-end freedom.

So, now from the above discussion it is clear that you really need an upgrade from your current CMS, Drupal 7. Well it might surprise you that it just took a month to go from 0 to 60,000 sites on Drupal 9 in comparison to 7 months taken to reach 60,000 sites on Drupal 7 and 3 months in regards to Drupal 8.

Illustration diagram describing the comparison of Drupal updates among Drupal 7, 8 and 9 of various sites.  Source: Drupal.org

Learn more about Drupal 9 here:

Conclusion

There is a saying, “Sometimes the ending can be beautiful”. It goes well along with the end of life (EOL) for Drupal 7 too. Your journey with Drupal just keeps on going better with the passage of time. The latest Drupal upgrades of Drupal 8 and 9 gives you the opportunity to run your site smoothly and securely, also enhancing the overall Drupal features and functionality.

You may be thinking, “how long will Drupal 9 be supported?”. Drupal 9 end of life is directly proportional to Drupal’s heavy usage of Symfony code. When Symfony 4 reaches its end of life in November 2023, Drupal 9 too will be termed end of life. So, in a nutshell, plenty of time left to reap the merits of Drupal 9 for your current Drupal 7 or 8 website as well your future projects! 

Sep 25 2021
Sep 25

In this growing era of technology, it is very important to have a smooth and trouble-free working environment. Today, all companies are enhancing their workflow and management in different ways. Keeping everything in line with the innovations, most of the tech companies are adopting open-source software strategies. Open-source software not only makes your work easier but cost-effective and adaptable for business growth. 

Open-source software is released under an open-source license so that anyone can use it. Popular companies like Github host many open source projects, Linux, Ansible, and Kubernetes are examples of open source projects.  

Likewise, thousands of companies using open source platforms experience a sustainable approach with a large user base. These companies use open-source software tremendously, and it is increasingly shaping enterprise software architectures. The use of open-source software has become imperative for their business growth. In this article, you will discover why companies are using open-source software strategies for their development. 

Why do companies go open source  

Knowledge is meant to be shared and the best way to learn is to teach. Open-source software is a free platform that allows its users to share experiences with others. Sharing your work can lead to better quality and helps to get constructive feedback. One of the best qualities of open source software is that the source code of a piece of software is kept open and free to download, also you can modify and incorporate it into third-party projects which helps to enhance the software itself. And that is why many companies are choosing open-source software strategies. 

Every company either VMware, Dell, Nordstrom, or Home depot, relies on open-source software. It all started with Red Hat, who was an initiator in the open-source software market and investors always had this doubt whether other companies would be significant for open source or not. But we have seen rapid growth in the open-source software market and now an open-source has a good presence in the industry. A lot of big companies have now been putting a lot of emphasis on open source strategies.
Talking about the up-gradation in the field of the open-source software environment, in 2019, Red Hat was taken by IBM for $32 billion, Mulesoft for $6.5 billion after going public, and MongoDB for worth $4 billion. In addition, there was a growing unit of remarkable open-source software companies working their way through the growth stages of their evolution like Confluent, HashiCorp, DataBricks, Kong, Cockroach Labs, and many more in the business world. These changes in the tech industry towards open space have given a lot of preference to open source software strategies and improved its occupancy in the industry.

different boxes consisting of statistical information on open source strategySource: Boston Consulting Group

Business use of open-source software is rising at a rapid speed. With an increase in the number of users, we can now see a magnificent development in the open-source market. Open Source has become a community where people from different backgrounds work together and it gives companies the flexibility to choose the right staff and save money. Some of the very important reasons for choosing open-source software strategies of these companies are:

'reasons to choose open source strategy' written on top and different icons below consisting of textual elements explaining open source strategy basics


With open-source software, one of the major advantages is that you can check and track your code without having to rely on vendors. Which creates a sense of flexibility in workflow. Peer programmers can also help to improve the source code and you can have an open collaboration with them on a project basis. With no vendor lock-in system, you can take your open source code anywhere and use it accordingly. All these perks of open source software give an upper hand to companies to choose open source software strategies. 

Open Source in numbers

Compared to proprietary software where businesses must pay for them, open-source software is available for free in the market. Moreover, in proprietary software, vendors keep source code confidential but in open source software, it is developed publicly. These vendors rely a great deal on the open community. And not only vendors but employees, freelancers, and hobbyist programmers associated with open-source workspace participate in open source projects to get acknowledged for their technical skills. Because this platform gives global recognition as their work is accessible to all. 

Contribution of big companies, vendors, developers, and freelancing programmers helped the global market of open-source software services to increase at an exponential rate. Its flexibility to modify code and free availability is the topmost advantages to widen up its use.

'CAGR reports for the open source software market' written on top and different icons explaining statistical information on open source market forecast


The tremendous growth in the graph of the open-source software market indicates that companies are ready to invest more and more in the open-source space. These researches depict that open source adoption in organizations is expected to grow across all IT segments to accelerate business growth.

Merits and caveats of open source 

The demand for open source software services in the market has seen tremendous growth to accelerate businesses. There are many reasons why the open-source software strategy has become so popular. Let’s have a look: 

  • One of the important features of open-source software systems is that their code can be fully customized and vendors can change portions of the code or add components to alter it for different business needs.
  • Latest technologies like AI and ML use open-source software. Its proficiency and vitality provide an edge, with the community ensuring that applications are developed rapidly.
  • The community utilizes a collaborative approach to software development, which helps drive development. Enterprise-grade open source software faces a lower risk of inactivity because of the community’s involvement.
  • Finding developers is easier in an open-source system as it is supported by a large number of developers of diverse backgrounds. More on diversity, inclusion and equity in open source here.

Nothing is black and white there are greys in everything. For instance, licensing from commercial open source vendors may sometimes be pretty difficult to comprehend. If you see MIT and Apache licenses, they comprise only the barest of requirements vis a vis software redistribution. Hardly anything detailed can be seen in MIT license and apache license puts forth elaborative terms which means that the latter is most often seen with open source projects designed for enterprise-grade deployment. More on open source licensing here. Sometimes organisations find themselves on the crossroads when they have to strike the right chord between reaping the benefits of OSS and recognising the importance of bearing legal liability when anything goes downhill. Also, Open source security has the reputation of being the best in the business but under-funded open source projects can have serious repercussions.

Why create an open source strategy for your business?

An open-source software strategy is a collective approach towards innovation. It requires systematic flow and management to achieve its goals. According to Ibrahim Haddad at Samsung, hiring top-tier development talent that already has working knowledge in the area of open-source environments helps businesses to achieve their goals and also guides existing developers. An experienced person can easily supervise newcomers. 

Lee Congdon, former CIO of Red Hat, also echoes the same thought stating that “Open source is a pool of space for businesses to attract new talent.”

The business imperative

So far we have understood the importance of open-source software strategy in business growth but we need to figure out how to set these strategies to boost efficiency and minimize risk. To start with an idea, the very initial step is to create a plan and here in open source software strategy, one has to start documenting a strategy document. This will help in keeping you out of trouble that can arise from picking up wrong decisions. 

Strategizing your document will benefit you in many ways:

  • It will clearly explain your company’s approach to open source and its use. 
  • Helps in making decisions for multi-departmental organizations and builds a healthy community around inventions. 
  • The strategy document will give a clear-cut idea about the company’s investment and let more leaders and stakeholders be involved. Read more about open source leadership here.

What’s in it for stakeholders

Engaging stakeholders in your strategy is a crucial task. The goal of a company is to produce high-quality, secure, and reliable products. Open source platforms help each and everyone in the organization to grow and achieve their goals with high productivity and with a vision to achieve the desired result. What stakeholders look for is the best output for the business and sustainability in the market. 

One of the best features of open source is its high flexibility in modifying source code. Since it is an open platform, it gives you ample space to make changes in code from anywhere. It encourages developing new features along with replacing or improving existing features.  

Adding further to this, modification and development in source code becomes easy in open source software because you can take help and augment engineering resources from anywhere. Besides its contribution to code modification, the open-source platform is a great asset for cost reduction. It helps with consulting, training, and support costs because there is no exclusive access to the technology. And this helps in attracting third-party developers and contributors to your business. Learn more about open source being recession-free and how it thrives during economic slumps here.

Whether your organization chooses open source software for its high-quality source code, lower costs, flexibility, or because it lets you embrace digital innovation by making you try out disruptive technologies keeps you on the leading edge of technology, it provides a competitive advantage. Therefore, an open-source software strategy requires the collaboration of every member of the organization with the same vision to build an effective open-source environment. 

From the vantage point of Amazon Web Services

Amazon, one of the leading companies in the world today, heads more than 1,200 open source projects on Github. Like many other companies, Amazon Web Services is also making a significant contribution in open-source space and funding open source development specific to customer needs. Why have they invested so much in open source software strategy when it is not an open-source company like Red Hat? Matt Assay, head of open source strategy and marketing at AWS explained self-servicing is their main objective. As well as using a lot of open-source software in its own products, AWS provides promotional credits to open source developers to entice them to use AWS products. 

Their most recent open-source project is Babelfish for Aurora PostgreSQL. It is an open-source translation layer that makes it easy to migrate from Microsoft SQL Server to Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL.  

What to know before forming an open source strategy

We have gathered a lot about open-source software space in numbers and how to initiate the strategy. Now, two important aspects need to be kept in mind. These concepts will help businesses to determine a program framework and you can maximize your open source strategy. Let’s have a look,

'what to know before forming an open source strategy' written on top and two different icons below explaining the prerequisites on open source strategy
  • Putting forth a standardised governance in place: A set of norms and guidelines is necessary while working on a project. As open-source software projects grow, contributions from different areas become more complex, if you do not have proper policies and procedures. Proper governance helps in setting up the same guidelines for everyone working on a particular project and reduces security and legal risks. It smoothes the transition when an internal project is open-sourced because then all the developers will work under a certain governance code. 
  • Putting forth a strategy for long-term, sustainable projects: For any business, it is important to have a sustainable approach for long-term relationships. A key driver to measure the success of open source software is that it builds a strategy around companies to take interest in your open source projects. Building a long-term relationship with contributors and partners in open source arises from feature-rich developer communities whose code is productized to get business profit and governance. The ultimate goal is to reinvest back into the project community lifecycle. More on open source sustainability here.

How to create an open source strategy

'how to create an open source strategy document' written on top and different icons below explaining open source guidelines in detail


Do you think your words are sufficient enough to portray your idea? Obviously not, because everything can’t be remembered just by words. You need something handy to recall things. Similarly in an open-source software strategy, a written document will help you to align your goals and objectives. The documented strategy assists everybody in the team to work in sync and helps them to understand the business objectives behind your open source project.

Document your goals and objectives

The most important step is documenting your goals and objectives in a way that can be understood by everyone. At a minimum, your document should explain the company’s approach and what’s the role of open-source software strategy in that. And to determine an approach it is vital to understand your vision towards any project, whether you are ready for open source strategy or not, which open source strategy is helpful for your company and many people you need to contribute to your project. 

Ian Varley, Software Architect at Salesforce shared his thoughts on open source strategy documentation, stating that “at Salesforce, we have internal documents that we circulate to our engineering team, providing strategic guidance and encouragement around open source."

Determine how your employees can contribute to open source

The key element of any project is the workforce behind it. Determining the right amount of people and talent to shape your strategy is necessary for all businesses. Guiding your employees about how they can consume open source code and what contribution they can make in that. What acceptance, rejection, and exception policies should developers follow? How to manage if code comes into one of your products from a project with a different licensing setup? All these queries need to be kept in mind while producing an open-source strategy document. Learn more about the perks of contributing to open source here.

Decide upon the number of people you need and the skills required

The next step is to decide the strength for your project with the right amount of skills required. You might need to put in a lot of effort to gather the right workforce because in open source software strategy projects a developer has to be comfortable with an ambiguous ecosystem and should have the ability to take criticism and feedback. Not everybody is comfortable working under a public spotlight and that is why it becomes very important for any company to hire only those who have an intent to work in an open-source environment. 

External resources:

Open-source software strategy depends on many external and internal resources and these resources help you to determine the criteria to set your strategy. Talking about the external factors there are a lot of resources that help you flesh out your open source strategy and the majority of them are free. Have a look at some of them: 

  • Linux Foundation offers educational resources
  • Talk Openly Develop Openly practices on running open source strategy programs
  • Open Source Guide by GitHub helps on building open source community
  • Open source policy documentation by Google
  • InnerSource Commons founded by Paypal helps companies to pursue an open-source strategy in exchange 

Their approach can differ according to their needs but a common agenda to contribute towards an open-source environment is the same. You can choose and adapt their practices and strategies that fit your business needs. 

The surprising fact is that Netflix, which is the biggest OTT platform, is a true standout in open source. They have an Open Source Software Centre that contributed many tools and applications to the open-source community

Internal resources:

While these kinds of external resources can give basic direction and fill in as a benchmark for your strategy, internal resources are key in setting your open source business system. Your open-source methodology ought to be custom-made to your interesting plan of action, and individuals inside your own organization are the best wellspring of data. Moreover, you need to incorporate every one of the stakeholders to arrive at an agreement to guarantee that everybody is in total agreement and put resources into seeing the endeavors succeed.

Chalk out policies and guidelines

Now once you understand goals, objectives, and employee contribution, you have to set some policies and guidelines before working on an open-source software strategy project. These bullet points need to be written down properly in your strategy document. 

'open source strategy document' written on top and different circles explaining them in detail


Incorporate open source program offices

It is important to have a center of all sources so that information becomes easily accessible to all. Companies and corporations mostly set up program offices that act as one-stop shops for open source-related activities. It helps to manage the process and to be a resource for your contributors to get help and guidance. An open-source program office can provide your contributors with a platform to share ideas, collaborate with other developers and spark innovation as well. Coordination between internal activities such as legal, technical, and marketing becomes with the program office. 

Companies with poor open-source software strategies will never find a way to execute a project in an open ecosystem. For them, it becomes very important to foster the workforce with the right governance and supervision to achieve their goals. And that is where open source plays an important role. It helps in finding out the contributors for your project and improves the company’s reputation for both marketing and recruiting purposes. Most importantly it helps to support employees on a great level because of the fact that source code is open and they can ask for help anytime anywhere. 

Measure your success

'how to improve your open source strategy' written on top and different icons below explaining them in detail


To summarize, by having a clear strategy you can justify your open-source projects and will be able to achieve the desired goals. Measuring metrics will go a long way to understand the success rates. But the bigger part is you need to understand how you are going to analyze which metrics to use? Eventually, you need to look at your strategies and plans to come up with criteria that will help you measure whether or not you are successful.

At last, If your open source strategy is not giving you results, consider restructuring your strategy. Develop a strategic plan and set your goal, this will help in making your project sustainable. If you’re ignoring changes in the industry and not getting aware of the current software trend then it would create chaos for your business. It becomes very important to understand what this project will do and how it’s going to solve a problem, so just open that README file and look for solutions. Appreciable feedback will help you to analyze the problems and give better solutions. 

Building a culture of psychological safety is necessary for an open-source ecosystem as developers can feel a sense of comfort while working and would not get worried about the results. All these points make open-source software strategy an important element to your business.

Sep 20 2021
Sep 20

People of the modern era have witnessed the impact of the digital revolution that has successfully connected the whole world through the medium of technology. Sitting at the cozy corner of your home you can explore the new cuisines added in your favourite restaurant nearby. How about going trekking this weekend? You can get an idea about the best treks with the help of information available over the internet. So, have you ever wondered how the digital content is maintained and made accessible to the large audience across various channels with every new update or information? Well it is made possible with the help of “create once and publish everywhere” (COPE) where you can just create the content once and publish the same in every digital format over multiple platforms, also enhancing the digital outreach. In this article, I will take you through the details of this significant term, C.O.P.E. with Drupal. 

What is meant by create once, publish everywhere (COPE)?

Create once, publish everywhere (COPE) is a strategy that helps in content creation and distribution. With COPE, instead of creating content multiple times over multiple pages, you can manage a single piece of content in one place and publish it in many different platforms for either the first time or the hundredth. Due to this unique facility, more organizations are seen adopting the COPE model that helps in managing their increasing demands over content creation and distribution. Let us look into an example for better understanding. Assume that you own a fashion house and it has a very exciting website. Now, it so happens that you plan to change your business hours which are present in every page of your website. If your website has got 25 pages, does that mean you will have to make changes in all the pages? Not really. Because with COPE you can form a panel or a block which holds your business hours and can instruct your content management system (CMS) that you want that particular block to appear in each page of your website. So, now when you change your business hours, you will only have to change that particular block, and it will get updated over all the pages of your website with just one click. 

COPE was first pioneered by National Public Radio (NPR) to make multimedia content sharing and publishing easy across various devices, email marketing, social media and many more. In regard to the significance of COPE, NPR states that with the growing need of digital content, the opportunities for content providers have increased massively. Therefore, to blow away the audience with amazing pieces of content, the content providers also require distribution platforms and APIs. But along with those, they essentially need to follow the philosophy of COPE which ensures content portability and modularity. Below is a diagram representing NPR’s content management pipeline and how it adopts the COPE principles. The diagram depicts the main principle that is to have content producers and ingestion scripts channel content into just one system or series of nearly tied systems. Also, it illustrates that regardless of content destinations, or its type, the distribution of all content can be done uniformly.  

A diagram describing NPR's Content Management Pipeline, demonstrating COPE (Create once, publish everywhere)Source: NPR


With the growing technology, the interaction between the customer and the brands are constantly changing. The users are no longer accustomed to the traditional way of using websites or applications. They are seen connecting to your brands via IoT devices, conversational UIs and wearables. With their exclusive requirements, the customers actively engage with the organization’s content and data over various platforms. Due to the increase in the different channels through which the content is shared, the marketing team felt the need of treating content more like data. The marketers started to conceptualize content in the form of html pages, however the page architecture cannot be applied to all of the content available today. So, here comes the need of adaptation towards the models of structured content. Treating the content like data helps the marketers to practice the approach of COPE across various channels, and  executing structured content enables in extending an organization’s reach at the same time. 

To get a better learning experience about “create once, and publish everywhere” (C.O.P.E) you can go through these informative sessions below.

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Where can you find COPE?

Now, here comes the question, where do you find COPE? Basically, you’re running into such type of content over various websites you engage in. For example, Healthcare websites that are related to clinic locations, doctors. Retail websites where you can view products of your choice. News websites that are related to news or information. Entertainment websites where you can watch your favorite shows, movies and many more. Finally, to end with, recipe websites related to recipes and blog posts. 

Why shall you COPE?

A diagram describing the reasons to COPE (Create once, publish everywhere)


By far in brief you got an idea what exactly is COPE. Now, it's very essential to know the reasons for implementing it. Since, it is a big initiative that requires time, technical resources and cooperation from various groups at your organization.

Provides scalability

As we know that publishing content is just not limited to the web. With growing times, the number of systems and devices which consume content is increasing. Companies are seen publishing everywhere their content through digital signage, mobile apps, televisions and wearable technology as well. There is a need to make your content ideally scalable as you will have no time to manage your content in a different place for every output. So, having the capacity to create and update content in one single place is the best way to ensure scalability for a long term, and which is undoubtedly provided by COPE.

Provides growth with less resources

One of the important benefits COPE provides is that even with less resources you get the opportunity to grow and develop. A lot of money and time can be saved by not having the burden of creating different content for different platforms. Some of the companies who allow members from non-marketing departments to create content find it difficult to get those professionals to deliver and update content as per requirements. By executing COPE, some of these problems can be resolved as the duplication of content can be eliminated for different platforms.

Provides wider audience reach

COPE allows your organization to circulate content to a growing number of channels. For example, you might post a piece of content to your newsroom and associate it with some particular keywords or categories. Then the content’s summary will automatically be shown up on the newsroom’s homepage, on the main website homepage, and also in category-specific RSS feeds. Additionally, a link to your content and a summary will be shared on social-media automatically, also the users of your mobile app will receive a notification of the accessibility of the new content that can be read by them on their Android phones, iPhones, iPads and tablets. So, with COPE you have the facility of publishing your content over different mediums, also enhancing your audience reach at the same time. 

Provides accessibility

With COPE you can make your content accessible to a wide range of platforms through various formats that allows the people with disabilities to consume content without facing any difficulty. Accessibility can be provided in various forms. This approach is just not providing content accessibility to vision impaired users but also to users who are reading impaired, hearing impaired, neurologically impaired and the ones who are technologically challenged i.e. having slow or no internet access at all. Therefore, all these issues can be solved with the help of this approach.

Provides easier redesign

The web design trends keep on changing frequently, so the organizations need to go through a comprehensive redesign of their sites within a few years or constantly get involved in making iterative changes to their websites. In cases like this, if you do not have the basic principle of COPE i.e. the separation of content completely from the presentation layer, then you will have to create the new design and then copy the existing content into the new templates manually which is so troublesome. But with COPE, by separating content from the design, you don’t have to be concerned about the migration process, since you have the option of applying a different presentation to your content.

Enhances content freshness and accuracy

Managing your content in multiple places can not just be dull and time consuming but it can degrade the quality of your content negatively. If you have to log into various systems to create the same content in just different formats, you might lack enthusiasm in creating fresh content which could bring a negative impact over your Search Engine Results Page Ranking (SERP). Additionally, handling different types of content in numerous places further makes it difficult to provide exact accuracy over all channels. So, all these risks can be handled well by the COPE approach. And the users will be enabled to enter content into structured fields that helps them to personalize specific sections for particular destinations and outputs. The content creation also can be increased by pulling in links to related content that is recently published. 

What does it take to execute COPE?

This section will give you an understanding of what exactly it takes to implement COPE. So, let’s find out.

A  diagram describing what exactly it takes to implement COPE (Create once, publish everywhere)


Separate content and design

The complete separation of content from the presentation layer is one of the primary prerequisites of COPE as you will have to produce your content in any presentation. One important thing to emphasize upon is the need for the appropriate CMS as it works as content capturing tools that are very particular about where or how the content should be viewed, be it a mobile app, web page, TV etc to completely separate the content from the display. You will have to be careful from the content management systems that can distract your content contributors from prioritizing upon publishing quality and fresh content. 

Better structured content entry

Karen McGrane, a content strategist and website accessibility advocate explains the need for more structured content entry. She uses the terminology “dumb blobs versus smart chunks” in her talks around the world. So, dumb blobs are large pieces of content which are managed in one WYSIWYG editor that is similar to a Word document. With this there is a problem, it basically comprises your capacity to share content of different versions like condensed versions for a different website or a synopsis on a homepage. When it comes to executing COPE, content modularity is the key. It is the same as object-oriented programming that enables you to write your code in small, hugely reusable chunks. COPE essentially makes you understand that you need to be away from the dumb blobs and rather make your content entry forms even more smarter. You need to go beyond a monolithic WYSIWYG area by replacing it with much more structured data like content blocks, text fields and textareas, file choosers, pertinent metadata fields such as category, tags and keywords, summary and start and end date.

Cross-platform facility

Both proprietary and open source content management systems are seen struggling with cross-site sharing of content. You need to evaluate whether your CMS is capable enough to share content across sites and pages, and also inspect how it enables content sharing by non-technical users. In case, if you want to move to another system, then it is very important to carefully inspect and examine, also test how the ones which you are assessing supports the content sharing over websites and pages. While evaluating your present CMS, it is imperative to carefully analyze how to produce a single piece of content in as many different formats as you require without duplicating any content. You will have to figure out whether your CMS allows you to manage as many different websites as you require and also publish your content to limitless destinations. 

What are the challenges you face while coping?

Every coin has two sides, so with benefits also comes challenges. Here we will dive into the challenges you might face while coping.

A diagram describing the challenges one face during COPE (Create once, publish everywhere)


Paradigm shift

For some of the organizations, executing COPE requires an extreme paradigm shift. Some of the contributors might be very protective about their content and hesitant to have it published beyond their control, while others might have a concern that the content which is irrelevant to their page may accidentally be pulled in. Additionally, COPE necessitates you to think differently about the content. For instance, rather than creating “big blobs” which do not allow you to share smaller chunks of content to various platforms, COPE suggests you break your content entry forms into various structured blocks and fields. And in result, it will be time consuming for your “WYSIWYG blob” lobby to get a proper understanding about how your organization and audience will be benefited by the shift.

Requires investment

Depending on your current infrastructure, you might need to make some investments. Let’s say, for example, all the content management systems do not support COPE, and executing a more new, more appropriate CMS also integrating it with other systems can be time consuming and require resources. Training all your content contributors also requires time, and considering that if you don’t go for a CMS switch, you will need to re-work your content entry forms to further allow users to enter content in a much more structured way to attain portability. Ultimately, you will have to ensure that you tend to separate the content from the presentation layer, also providing the contributors the facility to enter content in small chunks instead of big blobs via WYSIWYG editor. One more important aspect is the need to explain to the stakeholders about the requirements and benefits of COPE. With the help of examples of companies like NPR who have successfully executed COPE, you can convince your stakeholders to consider adopting the most essential COPE approach.

Too much COPE is troublesome

A very important thing to remember is that COPE doesn’t signify you to randomly push all content to all platforms. Excessive use of this approach will bring the risk of losing your audience as they will be provided with content that might not be relevant to them. Therefore, it is advisable to be very strategic and recognize which content is suitable to which platforms or channels. Content marketing tools and analytics can be used to understand in detail about the different elements of your target audience, also measure your content effectiveness and strategize your plan accordingly.

What is the right way to COPE?

We have now understood the significance of COPE with the above explanations but along with that we should also be knowing the right approach of COPE. So, this section will exactly guide you with it.

A diagram describing the right way to COPE


Understanding your users

Adopting a user-centred design approach will help you in preparing your content according to the mindsets and behavioural patterns of the users. By using proper research and testing of the users preferences, you can provide your audience a seamless multi-channel experience of useful and relevant content.

Reviewing your tech stack

There is a necessity for a strong technology infrastructure, and the right content strategy that enables in delivering at the right time, the right content to the right person in the right format. To provide such a seamless delivery there is a need for a very sophisticated content management system that can easily identify which device your website or applications are being viewed on and also adapt what’s displayed suitably. 

Refreshing your internal and external resources

One of the important aspects that mostly gets unnoticed is the internal culture and processes. If your teams are busy working in silos then you won’t be able to get a clear and complete picture of the content creation that would further lead to dissatisfied and disaffected customer experience. 

Getting in touch with your stakeholders

Stakeholders are a very important part of the project's success. You cannot afford to miss the opportunity to contact them at the early stage when you decide to adopt the COPE approach into your business. There is a need for transparency between you and the stakeholders where you can explain to them the significance of this approach and how hugely the business can be benefited by adopting COPE.

Establishing high-level goals

At the beginning it is important to recognize your analytics and know where you exactly want to head towards. Without making them your sole focus, you need to have a SMART that stands for ‘specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely’ goal for your business.

Documenting your future plan

By hitting the ‘Publish’ button on your website, you do not finish your responsibility towards COPE. Since your work towards the web can never be finished. You will have to boost up your team by having frequent discussions where they can document all their plans, marketing strategies to meet the team goals and objectives. Things like identifying how and when the content shall be governed across the website needs to be looked after closely for better outcomes.

COPE with Drupal

It is well known to us that the digital networks consist of a variety of applications, and therefore all your organization’s can depend upon Drupal as the platform for content creation. So, by adopting an API-first architecture, Drupal can empower all your digital systems. Organizations are seen selecting a decoupled Drupal approach for various benefits. Headless Drupal or Decoupled Drupal uncouples the back-end which is accountable for presenting content, enabling Drupal to display content to other front-end systems, also allowing digital tools to utilize the tools of their convenience while sharing content over various channels. 

To execute a decoupled or headless Drupal architecture, organizations require a platform that enables developers to work with both traditional Drupal sites and decoupled Drupal projects as well.

Here, we will now look into how decoupled Drupal works. The developers with decoupled Drupal architecture gets the option of working with Drupal in the following modes.

  • With a completely decoupled Drupal approach, Drupal’s back-end serves as a decoupled CMS, managing and storing data, also availing it to the front-end systems of the developer’s preferences to deliver the content and communicate with Drupal via web service APIs.
  • Developers can choose a hybrid (progressively decoupled) Drupal approach, where a layer of JavaScript gets added to a webpage to provide a single block or component, or to build a communicative end-user experience.

More about the different options of decoupling Drupal here.

Drupal can be an excellent CMS for editors who need to have control over their content presentation and also be a rich headless CMS for developers building huge content ecosystems in one single package. With the help of the below diagram, you will get a clear understanding about the difference between a traditional Drupal site and a headless CMS.

A diagram describing the difference between a traditional Drupal site and a headless CMS.


The headless CMS steps back in the areas like in-context administration and in-place editing of content while Drupal focuses on allowing an editor to manage content and page structure in an interface beside a live preview instead of an interface that is entirely separate from the front-end user experience. Headless CMSes are unable to provide a full-fledged editorial experience which is integrated into the front ends to the ones they serve content. In order to make the marketers successful there is a need for a proper display and layout manipulation. But headless CMSes do not hold a strong opinion about display and layout settings and therefore fail to provide the required assistance to the marketers. Whereas one of the key features of Drupal is the capability to control where content appears in a layout structure. One more facility that editors and marketers want is the access to an easy preview system for the unpublished content. But in the headless CMS paradigm, developers will have to come into the picture to deliver a seamless preview by setting up a new API endpoint and deploying a distinct version of their application which issues requests against new ways. Therefore, headless CMS lacks in providing a seamless preview to the marketers and editors as there is an interference of the developers without whose assistance they cannot preview the content on their own. 

So, from the above discussion it is clear that the features provided by Drupal are simply unique in comparison to other headless CMSes. Therefore, Drupal is certainly the first choice for an editor and a developer who enthusiastically look forward to working hand-in-hand with the latest technology and trends.

Learn more about decoupled Drupal here:

Conclusion

If you want to sustain your content management for a long-term, then all you need to do is adopt the COPE framework. This approach will need you to change your perspective towards managing your content to make it available to a wide range of audiences through multiple platforms and channels. And implementing COPE with Drupal will be the best way to ensure your organization the route to success.

Sep 14 2021
Sep 14

Every year the technology trends keep on changing and every year it keeps on astounding us. And I believe it is these technological advancements that keep the world moving, and standstill isn’t something that any of us would like or even prefer.    

Today, I want to talk about one such technological advancement that has appeased the web developers, marketers and stakeholders beyond their expectations. And that is the headless architecture for web development

So, what is headless architecture?

Traditionally, when a website is built using content management systems, it is entirely encompassed within that CMS. That one software is the entire world of the website, it controls the presentation layer and the UI as well as manages content at the backend, there isn’t anything else for it. However, the headless solution can offer a website the chance to dip its toes into newer and more modern technologies. 

With the headless approaches, a website essentially separates its frontend from the backend. While the backend functionality is dependent on the CMS at work, the frontend could be any technology available to the developer. JavaScript and Static Site Generators are what are often chosen, with React, Angular, Vue, Gatsby and Metalsmith amongst the frontrunners. 

So, how does the site function with this separation of powers?

An application programming interface or an API to be short helps in that. It transmits information to and from both the ends, kind of like a middleman in sales. Because of the API, the content can be distributed on multiple channels with ease, making content creators extremely happy, an advantage the monolithic architecture does not offer. 

The architectural design of the headless solution is explained in a diagram.


The headless or decoupled architecture is known for the freedom it gives to the developers, making it a trend that has been increasingly gaining grounds and that is what we are going to be analysing today. The reasons, the statistics, the headless domains, the constraints and of course, we can’t ignore Drupal. Let’s see the headless architecture trends in 2021

Has headless architecture become the next big thing in web development?

For me, the answer to that question is a big fat yes. And I have three words to justify my stance and those are superior digital experiences. Headless architectures have the potential to create digital experiences that are far more superior than a standalone, monolithic approach could ever conceive to build. It might seem a little unfair to say that the monolithic architecture is inept at what it does, that is certainly not the case, it's just that the headless architecture has a lot more to offer. For further understanding, read more about headless architecture and monolithic architectures and when to move from monolithic to headless architecture.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the paramount reasons for the significant state the headless architecture has found itself to be in 2021. When you ask yourself ‘Are headless CMS worth it,’ it’s these reasons that would give you an answer.

Headless for limitless technologies and limitless possibilities 

The prime reason for the elevated position of headless architecture is owed to the limitless technologies it allows the adapter to adopt. Headless has become the synonym for technological advancement in web development. A traditional CMS in the monolithic sense would always come with boundations, there would come a point where its abilities can no longer be extended, however, in the headless setup that point is quite far-fetched. More on whether choosing a headless CMS is right or not here.

You can use any technology you want and any feature you may want can be added to your project. 

What is the result?

An enhanced digital experience for your users. Here is what the WP engine’s 2021 survey found out. 

Almost 92% of the survey respondents believed that the headless architecture led to an enhanced digital experience for the users because of its content experience it provided.

You cannot deny the advantage the use of other technologies can give you. 

  • You get the best content experience that is omnichannel, you can reuse it on multiple platforms without it being scattered on multiple siloes; 
  • You get better aesthetics, better accessibility and better user experience for your project; 
  • You get better security as the codebase is less bulky because of the separation of concerns; 
  • You get more productivity out of your developers because they are going to be using technologies that they like and are comfortable with; 
  • You get independent marketers who do not have to rely on developers for simple tasks like creating and updating landing pages: 
  • You get to future proof your project because you aren’t going to be relying on one software that has the chance of becoming obsolete after some time.

Apart from these, you do get plenty of other benefits too, faster performance, faster innovation, faster marketing and a faster and seamless connection between all your digital touchpoints. And you can achieve all of this using React or Angular or Vue or a static site generator, that is your choice completely.

Headless for keeping users satiated 

So far, we’ve gathered that headless architecture is equipped with an exponential amount of possibilities to be created from an exponential number of technological choices.

As a result, web experiences are being able to provide solutions that were never before achieved through the monolithic architecture. Consequently, organisations are able to achieve their strategic goals through headless and become utterly satiated with their developments. 

The leadership in an organisation has become more likely to choose a headless approach and recommend it to its tech providers in the hopes of capitalising on the many choices the approach comes with. This incidentally keeps everyone satiated, including the stakeholders, the development and marketing team and the targeted audience and consumers.

Headless for all the right reasons 

According to a report by Kentico Kontent, here is the perception of the headless architecture straight from its users. 

The perception of headless architecture is shown with respect to different areas.Source: Kentico Kontent

Majority of the users, including the developers and the marketers, consider the headless approach to provide a considerable number of benefits, which makes us believe that this is a trend that is only going to boom in the near future.

Headless for better investment 

2.6 million USD

That is a substantial amount and that is the average investment organisations are making on headless technologies. 

Is it a better investment choice?

The preceding three points would be a clear indication of an affirmation of this question. Yes, the investment can seem a bit daunting, but it comes with its fair share of benefits that account to one satisfying outcome and that is better ROIs.

Okay, you tell me; 

Would better performance not bring in more rewards?
Would an agile workflow not lead to more productivity and better solutions?
Would a robust digital experience not be equivalent to happier consumers?

If yes, then the headless architecture is truly the next big thing in the world of web development and any other architecture would seem a little pale compared to it.

What do the numbers say about headless architecture?

The numbers are in favour of technology today and they definitely favour the headless approach. 

According to OC&C Strategy Consultants

  • 55% of US households will own a smart device; 
  • And the IoT market is expected to be valued at 520 billion USD by this year.

This is proof that technology is going to boom in the near future. As for the headless trend, here is a projection that shows tremendous growth.

The projected growth in the headless market is shown through a line graph.


With a CAGR of 22.6%, the headless architecture is bound to have an illustrious future. 

Now, let’s take a look at the usage of headless architecture and the interest it has garnered by enterprise organisations in 2019 in comparison with 2021.

The usage statistics of the headless architecture are shown.


What is also important to note is that now organisations have started associating digital experiences with business success. And since we have established a direct relationship between enhanced digital experiences and headless technologies, you can probably guess what the path to business success will entail. 

Referring to the WP engine report again, 

A vast majority of organisations, 92% of them, believe digital experiences become more powerful with headless technologies.

Now, you tell me, don’t you think the headless approach is only going to advance in the future? If you ask me, I certainly do.

What technological aspects are being capitalised with the headless architecture?

We’ve talked about how the headless architecture is being perceived in the present and looked at statistics that only show a growing trend. Now, let’s look at the technologies that are being capitalised to make this approach reach its true potential; it’s important because it's these technologies that encompass the majority of the benefits of headless architecture. 

JavaScript and all its virtues 

You can’t talk about headless architecture and not mention JavaScript. Ever since its release in 1995, it has evolved a great deal and become frontend developers’ holy grail, with two-thirds of them swearing by it. 

Here is a graph showing the popularity of JS frameworks over the years. 

The position of various JS frameworks is shown over the years.Source: State of JavaScript 2020

Can’t forget JAMstack 

The mention of JavaScript brings us to JAMstack, that is JavaScript, API and Markup. It is an architecture that stands on pre-rendering and decoupling. Websites built on it are considerably faster, more secure and more scalable. With JS in play, the frontend is bound to offer more to the developers, thus enhancing their productivity and workflow. 

Focus on individual components while development

Next technicality often seen in the headless world is pertinent to the development of individual components. There are two variations in this.

Micro-frontend architecture 

This is a solution that works marvelously with the monolithic structure by breaking it down into individual components that essentially become independent applications. Although they are separate, the codebase remains the same. 

Component-driven development architecture

This is somewhat similar to the previous one. However, it emphasises on the principle of modularity. This means that the developed components have the benefit of being reused and composed.

Both of these architectures come with similar advantages; 

  • The development takes place faster with team focusing on only one feature or component working simultaneously; 
  • The integration goes smoothly; 
  • The code can be maintained with much more ease; 
  • The task of scaling the project becomes pretty straightforward;
  • And the chances of errors reduce drastically, making testing and updates a breeze.

To know more, read about designing component-based systems, a quick look at the world of web components and the principles of atomic design methodology.

The new API solution: GraphQL 

Going headless mandates an API, and RESTful APIs were the only resort. However, now GraphQL is seen to be taking over. Being a query language, it enhances the data retrieval process to be much more accurate by reducing the number of requests sent to the server. 

  • GraphQL has smaller payloads; 
  • It has a single graph for retrieving queries; 
  • It can efficiently handle errors; 
  • And most importantly, it has a stringent type interface that magnifies performance.

Owing to these reasons, it is considered to be the superior sibling of RESTful API. And major brands like Facebook, Lyft and even Audi are leveraging it. More on different web services implementations available here.

Progressiveness in app development 

By progressiveness, I mean the Progressive Web Applications or PWAs. These are a cross-breed of mobile applications and traditional websites, meaning they leverage the browser APIs and its features as well as a conventional progressive enhancement strategy. The result is a project that performs impeccably well, loading in mere seconds, across multiple devices. Their reliance on HTTP protocols also make them pretty secure.

What is more intriguing about this trend is the fact that these PWAs perform even when there is poor or no connectivity. Thus, equipping businesses to target a demographic that was often overlooked.

The headless trend is growing, but not fast enough, why?

The usage statistics of the headless architecture are shown.


The image above mentions the percentage of people using and not using the headless architecture. And if I’m being honest the numbers are a bit disappointing when you look at the true potential of the approach. 

So, why is that the case?

Let’s find out. 

The marketers’ and content editors’ underwhelming experiences 

One of the promises that the headless architecture often makes is that it eases the work of both the marketers and the content editors. While that may be true to some degree, it isn’t the complete truth. 

The Kentico Kontent survey’s respondents gave the most precise answer that hit on point when they highlighted the demerits as below.

A survey's respondents highlight how much they prefer the headless architecture.Source: Kentico Kontent

If we consider these findings, three out of the top four challenges stated there are related to just that. Dependency on web developers and lack of marketing capabilities are proof enough. 

So, why aren’t the marketers and content editors not satisfied?

The major problem is related to control. The marketers and content editors do not have enough control over the visual layer as the presentation and content workflows are built from scratch by the developers. The access to the editorial interface isn’t as streamlined as the traditional setup.

I truly wondered as to why this was a problem. 

The answer lies in the universal nature of the headless content. Let me explain it. For a website or a mobile application, features like in-place editing and the famous drag-and-drop layout work pretty well. However, when you consider a smartwatch or say a voice assistant, can the same features be a possibility? 

Hence, the marketers and the editors have to compromise a little for the greater good, there is just no way around it. More on when and how to use headless CMS here.

The overwhelming concerns that won’t leave us alone

The headless architecture is still a novel concept for many of us. And like anything else that is new, there is some apprehension associated with it. You can say that it is because you would be parting with the out-of-the-box features that the monolithic structure may offer.

Security; 
Analytics; 
eCommerce; 
Monitoring and reporting; 
And CRM; 

These are genuine concerns regarding the headless approach since it would be you and your front-end developers who would be responsible for them, and not your CMS or its community support. And that is as intimidating as it is overwhelming. You would entrust your site’s entire front-end to your developers, there is bound to be some risk, so trust me I get the apprehension.

Of course, you can hire an agency to help you out with the right security API so that there aren’t any flaws and only be overwhelmed with the impressiveness of your site. More on the right skills you need to successfully deliver a headless project here.

The perception of the stakeholders

Finally, it is time to discuss the stakeholders and the role they play in holding back the headless architecture. 

If you ask a stakeholder in an organisation to give his take on this approach, you would probably not get a straight answer. When we understand their perception, you can’t really blame them for their opinion. 

For one, that person relies on his website for his livelihood and he wouldn't want to risk it. Therefore, he might not want to adopt the headless architecture before others because he isn’t familiar with the territory. Secondly, the website may have all the necessary features that it needs to satisfy its consumer base, at least in the present, through the traditional setup. 

Yes, technology might change in the future, the consumer needs would too, but where is it written that only headless architecture can fulfil those needs. The headless approach does have a lot to offer, but so does the conventional CMS. So, why risk it?

Where does Drupal fit in the headless movement of 2021?

I couldn’t write a blog about the headless approach and not mention Headless Drupal architecture, that would not be ideal at all as I personally feel that Drupal is one of the best headless CMS in 2021. So, let’s understand the role of Drupal and all of its offerings in the headless realm.

Drupal has an impressive headless architecture that allows its users to work with the most advantageous technologies today. It offers three ways to approach the headless architecture.

  • You can choose to fully decouple Drupal, this would completely separate your frontend from the backend, you’ll be free to build your presentation layer outside of Drupal, while the CMS would only act as a content repository.
  • You can choose decoupled Drupal for static sites with JAMstack at work and static site generators. More on leveraging static site generators and CMS here.
  • Finally, you can opt for progressively decoupled Drupal, wherein you can use other frontend technologies without losing Drupal’s functionality on the same end, the backend would only be empowered by the CMS.

Choosing between the three and the monolithic architecture can be a tricky choice, here is what Dries Buytaert had to offer in easing the choice. 

The decoupled Drupal architecture is explained.Source: Dri.es

To know more, read about the different options of decoupling CMS and best frontend technologies for your headless CMS development.

If you are familiar with Drupal, you may be familiar with all of what I have just mentioned. So, what is new? 

The answer is Decoupled Menus. The DrupalCon Global 2020 brought along the initiative of decoupled menus in Drupal

What is the Decoupled Menus Initiative about?

When you go the decoupled or headless route, you are going to be using JavaScript. Along with that you are going to have to create a custom code from scratch to make that feature using Drupal and JavaScript. 

The decoupled menus will come quite handy here. They are like pre-formed packages of JavaScript configurations that simply need to be implemented to make a headless feature work. These configurable menus can be placed in any JavaScript application and would be managed by Drupal with its community support.

You can also refer to them, if you do not want to use them as is, the documentation, packaging and security would be available to you for reference or implementation.

The decoupled menus are Drupal’s way of evolving itself and adapting into the headless world. It is evolving and making the headless architecture and Drupal combination seem less cumbersome. 

You may ask how? 

Aside from the obvious, there are a few reasons. Drupal architecture isn’t handling the work necessary for JavaScript packages, with decoupled menus, the bundling, testing and shipping via GitLab would be constantly updated. On top of this, the security issues pertaining to JS and the documentation for consumption of menus would be defined and updated. 

All of this means that a non-developer or content creator would get an intuitive UI that would allow him to configure the menus and turn them on or off with a few clicks and certainly without a developer. 

Here is a demo of the decoupled menus feature.

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In essence, this is a feature that would lay the groundwork for code for JavaScript frameworks like React and Vue, so that the workload that comes with headless architecture is lessened. You will get a React based display link on your ecommerce site without having to do all the work to get it. 
To emphasize more upon the milestone which this initiative has achieved, take a look at the Decoupled Menus Initiative Keynote followed by an interesting Q & A session through the help of this video at DrupalCon North America 2021.

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Concluding with the Future of Headless

Everything in this blog, the hesitation towards decoupled CMS aside, points to a clear and concise conclusion and that is the fact that the headless architecture will continue to expand in the coming years and may even overcome the resistance, making it future proof. 

New technologies would be looked into as part and parcel of the headless CMS, making the expectations seem rather high. Augmented reality, virtual reality, digital displays and kiosks, digital and voice assistants would not be a distant and rather tedious goal to achieve. 

According to the WP engine I’ve quoted a few times now, these advancements and inclination towards headless technologies would somehow vary depending upon geographic regions. Even the major tech hubs like the USA, the UK and Australia experience a variation in the expectation regarding headless. While e-commerce is a priority for the US and Australia, the UK focuses on websites and PWAs as their future expectations from the headless approach. 

Despite the differences, the world of headless is gaining traction and it is going to keep growing in the future as well, that is an irrefutable fact, if there was any. So, is headless CMS the future? It indeed is.

Let me end this blog with an interesting discussion on the state of headless through this YouTube video, enjoy!

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Sep 06 2021
Sep 06

Healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries that need to embrace digitalization for offering customized care and services to patients. Every aspect of healthcare operations demand a digital transformation to meet the numerous necessities of modern healthcare. In this article, we will get a deeper understanding about how the healthcare industry is welcoming new digital tools and innovations breaking the old traditional healthcare pathways. You will also get a glimpse of what role Drupal plays in empowering the healthcare industry. 

How digital transformation trends are contributing to the digitalization of the healthcare industry?

Digital healthcare is enabling patients to get access to modern healthcare services that deliver seamless patient experiences. Here are some of the digital trends that are adopted by the healthcare industry to bring radical changes in their respective services. 

Describing the digital trends which are contributing to the digitalization of the healthcare industry


Telehealth facility

Telehealth enables us to witness a complete change in the communication process between a patient and a healthcare provider. The technologies such as telemedicine, patient-portals, remote patient monitoring, video conferencing and mobile health are making the patient-doctor interaction very secure and swift.  

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is one of the most rapidly growing trends for healthcare and technology. The AI-based solutions enable the doctors and medical staff to rightfully take data-driven decisions beneficial for all. Instead of utilizing the rule-based registries, the AI-powered data recovery method is practised to provide exact patient information. The chatbots and automated voice systems are adopted by the hospitals to reduce the workload for the medical staff and screen patients without any difficulties or concerns. The versatility in chatbots enables it to play multiple roles such as diagnostic tools, customer service representatives and therapists as well. Also, the AI screening helps in recognizing who is in need of immediate care and guides patients towards the right contact channels. 

Robotics Process Automation

Since robotics process automation(RPA) can be termed as an intelligent form of business process automation which helps in recording processes carried out by humans on their computer and then carrying out the same processes without the help of any human interference. This technology can be very useful for the hospitals as it can automate all the repetitive processes that necessitate human interference in a hospital.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has significantly brought a change in the way patients are treated. This technology helps physicians and doctors to perform proper diagnosis and also plays a huge role in physical therapy, where patients are instructed to follow an exercise routine including VR instead of invasive surgeries and drugs. It can be considered as a powerful communication channel between doctor-patient that helps the healthcare providers to have a better understanding of patients needs and engage them virtually with the necessary services.

IoT & Patient Interaction

IoT provides operation theatres, labs and hospital’s diagnosis rooms with sophisticated technology that connects tools, equipment and machinery to deliver smooth integration where data is shared. IoT altogether helps in enhancing the patient satisfaction with better and much effective communication between patients and healthcare professionals. Additionally, healthcare providers are able to track data for critically ill patients with IoT based wearable devices to get a better understanding of their health conditions. Preventive healthcare is facilitated to patients where they can monitor their internal health conditions by wearable technology. Some of the commonly used wearable devices are oximeters, heart rate sensors and exercise trackers. This technology provides a sense of ownership to the patients during the process of improving their health conditions. The information received from these wearable devices also enable the health insurers to correctly rate a patient’s risk for ailment. It overall enables the healthcare industries to save a lot of money and provide the best healthcare assistance to the patients.

Cloud solutions for healthcare

Cloud-based data services enable hospitals to work upon value-based reimbursements models, providing real-time access to data storage and offering much required agility and flexibility in the healthcare operations. Since, the healthcare companies need to maintain a large volume of data in the form of patient information, medical reports and electronic records. All this data needs to be analyzed, and cloud technology enables the healthcare companies to properly store and access the data also at the same time avoiding any additional costs of physical servers in-house maintenance. Depending on the needs, cloud provides healthcare professionals with the facility to increase or decrease the data storage capacity as well. 

Data Management & Analytics

Since there has been a problem of managing huge data of patients by the medical professionals, they are seen majorly depending on Electronic Health Records (EHR). Maintaining data manually can create errors at times. But adopting necessary technologies such as big data, wearables and blockchain to properly obtain, manage and analyze data can be very beneficial for healthcare providers. Such effective data management leads to better patient diagnosis and care. 

Big Data & Hospitals

Big data brought a change in the process of fetching, analyzing and managing data, also improving the quality of patient care services, reducing the treatment costs and predicting disease outbreaks. The various healthcare apps having exclusive features help companies to get access to huge data, and Big data further analyses them and provides necessary insights. It provides additional benefits like lowering the rate of medication errors, availing preventive care and proper staffing facility.

Blockchain & Medical Records

Blockchain enables registering every transaction, identifying any conflicting information, and decentralizing data. There are countries like the UK and Australia which are seen utilizing blockchain for managing proper medical records. It is an effective tool that helps in preventing data breaches as well.

Safety and security

Cybercriminals and hackers target hospitals to take away sensitive patient data and further misuse them. Therefore, to ensure safety to patients, there is a need to have a robust cybersecurity architecture in the healthcare organizations. With the growing technology, the healthcare industry is able to maintain the necessary safety and security.

Healthcare consumerism

The healthcare consumerism helps patients to actively get involved in their important healthcare decisions. Due to the emerging technologies, like mobile health apps, member portals and bi-directional provider portals, a proper communication between the patient and the physician is built. By using such technology, the health community is able to design and develop modern healthcare facilities. 

Therefore, the above discussed emerging technology trends succeeded in enhancing the various healthcare systems and led to better patient care service. 

COVID 19 emphasizing the growing need of digitalization in the healthcare industry

The COVID 19 pandemic has adversely affected the healthcare sector leading to restriction in various services to prevent infection from this deadly virus which further resulted in reduction in health spending. Undoubtedly, due to this pandemic, there has been an economic impact on healthcare but at the same time, the industry also felt the need of prioritizing digitalization to ensure better healthcare facilities for all. It was observed that globally, the corporate funding for digital health companies was doubled and the investment in telemedicine also rose to a great extent. Additionally, due to these hard times, there has been a disruption in the supply chains of businesses. As it is mainly about life and health, the healthcare industry has to take better initiatives in the form of contingency planning than other industries to resolve such a major issue that is currently prevailing around the world. Therefore, 60% of companies are stepping in to invest in the digital supply chain prioritizing robotics, machine learning/artificial intelligence and automation according to a research conducted by Capgemini. For example, Melbourne Health Logistics has decided to take on a Supplier Improvement Pilot Project that includes 10 Australian-based SMEs and further focuses on addressing the supply chain challenges and inventory management with the help of digitization. The three main focus areas of the project are executing of data capturing technologies, enhancing data quality and enabling suppliers to utilize the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

Let us look into some of the healthcare predictions for 2021, post COVID 19.

Describing the healthcare predictions post COVID 19


Telehealth technologies will help in addressing specific patient and caregiver necessities. Currently, due to the pandemic, every health system has to adopt telehealth programs. So, the leaders are trying to look beyond the pandemic to rework upon their telehealth programs for a longer period of time. These platforms are facilitated with unique integration to EHR i.e. back-end electronic health record systems. Based on various factors like, geographical location, care and real-time language translators, this platform will enhance the functionalities to meet the growing necessities of patients.

The digital health companies will go beyond the electronic health record (EHR) systems. For better digital patient engagement, the companies are striving to look for much improved tools and technologies. Some of the big tech firms, like Salesforce and Microsoft will possibly become the platforms for patient engagement and enterprise collaboration due to the growing need of consumerism. 

Enhancing the digital experience of consumers in terms of consumer finance and e-commerce. Since consumerism is significantly growing, along with adopting telehealth technology, the healthcare industry needs to look after all the aspects of consumer satisfaction. Therefore, sectors like consumer finance and e-commerce where the healthcare industry is unable to develop best digital experiences for consumers, shall be prioritized and provided with world class facilities and experiences. The healthcare leaders will focus on enhancing digital engagement, also accepting the challenge of providing seamless customer experience.

Low-contact experiences to be a standard and quality feature of healthcare experiences. The pandemic has given a rise of contactless and low-contact experiences to provide safety to the consumers at its best. Therefore, many of the health systems have started executing online features like registration and payments which helps in replacing the earlier in-person experiences. Without any concern, the healthcare professionals can use the geo-tracking, automatically “check-in” patients at the time of their arrival at a physical location and also assist them to their appointments. 

To know more, read about pandemic-driven digital transformation, digital readiness during pandemic, and how businesses are reimagining their operations in the post-Covid era.

Why opt for Drupal?

Illustration diagram describing the Drupal features


The healthcare industry is hugely supported by Drupal development resulting in its exclusive features and functionalities. Drupal features help in building the perfect digital experiences for the healthcare industry also maintaining all the safety measures required for creating websites and applications. 

Opensource

The Drupal project is totally open-source software. Without any concern, you can download, use, work and share it to anyone for free. It is purely based upon principles like innovation, collaboration and globalism. Under the GNU General Public License (GPL), it can be distributed and there are no licensing fees for Drupal.

The Drupal community is ever ready to support its users by answering their questions and concerns. So, if you have any question, somebody will certainly answer it, since it’s a worldwide platform.

You can find more information about open-source here:

Content workflow

The in-built tools of Drupal helps in content creation, workflow and publishing, also allowing the content creators to work on it without any difficulties. The editorial workflows can be handled effectively by the provision of authentication and permission in this platform. With the provision of previews in Drupal, you get the opportunity to view the content on a device before approving and publishing it, create content with a WYSIWYG editor, and quickly track all revisions and changes to maintain the history of content changes if required. You can manage your roles and actions efficiently by observing all the stages of content i.e. creating, reviewing, and publishing. Drupal gives you access to a special feature where you can create a structured content, for example, describe content elements, tag content based upon any attributes, create convenient taxonomy for content so that it can be searched, used, reused if required in a manner that can improve customer satisfaction. 

You can create relevant content architecture using the Admin Interface or programmatically also do it. This platform gives you special mode tools and views, customizable menus that provide you a good user experience.

Read about how layout builder and paragraphs module enhance content workflow in Drupal.

Security

Drupal never fails to provide security to all kinds of web threats and vulnerabilities. It always prefers keeping robust security as a priority. There is a team of security experts that Drupal has which looks after all the security issues with their well-built coding standards, and strict review coding process. Drupal proves to be a stable and a secure open-source platform due to its wide professional service provider.

According to the 2020 edition of the Acunetix, Web Application Vulnerability Report, Drupal was found to be the most secure CMS in the open source CMS market.

Illustration with a circle describing the minimal security issues of Drupal CMS Source: Acunetix

Scalability and performance

Drupal’s in-built performance features when combined with a modern CDN provider performs exceptionally well under the pressure of supercharged databases, advanced caching and load balancing. The scalability feature of Drupal allows your website to perform well even on the busiest days. To know more, read about Drupal’s performance optimisation offerings and how it scales with your needs to govern high web traffic.

Multilingual

The automated language translation in Drupal helps in reaching out to a diverse audience with the provision of localized content. Drupal can build complex multilingual web applications and customized sites in various languages. The core modules of Drupal help in complete translation of every part of a website, content types and their definite fields, users, menus, taxonomy, blocks, contact forms and comments. This further allows in acknowledging the suitable language as per the user’s IP address, URL, browser settings, session and more. Read more about Drupal’s multilingual capabilities here.

Accessibility

With Drupal you get a special feature of building websites that can be accessible by people with disabilities. Drupal ensures that all its features conform with the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines (W3C) guidelines: WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 2.0. This feature provides an equal opportunity for all regardless of any discrimination. 

Learn more about accessibility here:

Personalisation

Drupal users receive a special, personalized profile for every visitor like using geolocation, browser history, behavior taxonomies and device type. They also are given a customized experience that helps them in tracking and reporting with A/B and multivariate testing, improving ROI through target marketing and also segmenting visitors over devices by focusing on the important user identity for your business goals. 

Learn more about personalisation here:

SEO 

With Drupal, you get access to exclusive SEO tools that help you in improving your website’s visibility. Here are the tools and modules.

Understanding the linking game through Linkit module; 
Understanding keyword game through Real-time SEO for Drupal;
Understanding the duplicacy predicament through Redirect module;

To know more, read this definitive guide to Drupal SEO in 2021.

Multisite support 

Drupal helps you in managing various websites over your organization, geographies, brands and campaigns on a single platform, enabling easy, fast website creation and deployment. Read this complete guide on Drupal Multisite to know more. 

Marketing automation

By utilizing tools and modules in recent versions, Drupal facilitates smooth integration with the automation platforms that can collect customer demographics and convert potential leads within the suitable time. Learn more about how marketing automation can be leveraged with Drupal here.

Mobile first approach and mobile apps

Drupal helps in creating responsive sites and building web applications that can deliver better user experience. It provides responsive design best practices and makes sure your users are benefited with the best content experience each time on every device. There are two ways of building mobile web applications which work with Drupal - integrated with Drupal at the theme layer, or a standalone mobile web app that communicates with Drupal using web services. Even though, both the approaches will work for building mobile web applications, it will be a way easier to begin with integrating the mobile web app into Drupal as a theme. To know more, read about mobile-first design approach and mobile apps like that of Flutter-powered delivered by Drupal.

Integrated Digital Tools and Applications

Drupal can smoothly integrate with a wide ecosystem of digital technology and other business applications to help you opt for the right set of tools today and tomorrow according to your preferences. 

Strong Stack Foundation

Drupal depends upon Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, the latest LAMP technology stack which meet the requirements of flexible, fast-moving agile companies and brands that help in building the next generation digital platforms. 

Facilitates Decoupled Architecture

Content flexibility is one of the features that Drupal provides to allow a smooth flow over sites, native apps, connected devices that can be displayed on third party websites and social networks. Since, many CMSes look for managing content in a back-end repository and move it to “front-end” templates which can provide a static experience. Drupal facilitates decoupling the back and front ends, wherever it’s required. So, the content of Drupal remains as reusable chunks, which is free from presentation, and ready for easy delivery to sites and applications. Drupal’s presentation i.e. RESTful API and neutral content help the front-end developers to build interactive websites and applications according to their preferences. There is availability of tools like Angular, Node, Ember and Backbone. With this platform you can obtain third-party content ((eg. syndicators and aggregators) and make it accessible to any app, website or channel. The content of Drupal can be comfortably consumed by other websites and applications with the support of Drupal’s content-as-a-service capability. The front end developers of Drupal can easily design content such as separating back-end content from front-end presentation according to their conveniences. 

Learn more about decoupled Drupal here:

Web Hosting

You can choose the best hosting vendor that fulfills your needs, with Drupal. Additionally, you can change hosting vendors whenever you want, and also select to host the website internally. 

Migrations

Drupal upgrades can be said to be easy and convenient. The makers reveal that the upgrade from Drupal 8 to 9 was very simple. By referring to these four simple steps, you can build your site’s functionality, and maintain proper security standards of Drupal 9 by using the Upgrade Status. With Drupal Module Upgrader and Upgrade Status, the developers can make the upgrades themselves. Moreover, you can also recognize  whether your modules and themes are capable enough for Drupal 8/9 and convert your custom code respectively.

Learn more about Drupal 9 upgrade here:

Extensibility

Drupal offers various themes and distributions to its users. Now, taking you through some of the significant themes offered by Drupal. The first theme we have is YG Medical - Healthcare | Bootstrap based Drupal 9 theme. Available for Drupal 8 and Drupal 9, the YG Medical is a complete modern bootstrap theme for Clinics and Hospitals. 

The second theme is Medical Zymphonies. It is not dependent on any other core theme and has a modern look and feel. The features of this theme include Medical related color combination, Doctor appointment form., Awesome slider, Quick contact details on top of the website, Font awesome icons, Drupal forum, HTML5, JavaScript, jQuery & PHP, Single column, two columns and full width layout, a total of 16 regions, Nivo slider, views, webform module styles, Minimal design and nice typography and Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vimeo). 

The third theme we have is Medicare Zymphonies. This theme is a perfect fit for medical companies and hospital websites, for small clinics, like pediatric, dental, gynecology or general therapist clinics, family doctors and ambulances. It also has all the necessary features needed especially for the medical websites. 

Next, the fourth theme is Ultra Zymphonies. This is a responsive multipurpose Drupal theme which is perfect for any business themes. Be it a medical doctor, freelancer, corporate team or a lawyer who is looking forward to a modern business website or a personal blog, Zymphonies theme can be the best choice.

The fifth theme is Decor Zymphonies. This theme is similar to the above theme. A complete responsive multipurpose theme that suits best for the business theme. It proves to be the perfect theme for anyone including a medical doctor, lawyer, creative, corporate team or freelancer who is proactively willing to build a modern business website or create a personal blog.  

Finally, we will end up with Clinic Zymphonies Theme. It is a Mobile-first Drupal 8 responsive theme. Along with being highly customizable, it also features a custom sideshow, responsive layout and multiple column layouts. 

Now, we will go through one of the Drupal distributions for healthcare i.e. Virtual care. It is a distribution that offers a Basic Drupal Healthcare site for better communication between Patient and Healthcare Professional which further facilitates the exclusive features for patients, healthcare professionals, editors and site-admins as well.

Support and maintenance, hiring of developers, and partnering with digital agencies

You will find various Drupal agencies that will provide you with quality services as per your requirements. Below are the top 5 Drupal agencies in the global Drupal marketplace.

Describing the top 5 Drupal agencies in the global Drupal marketplace with the help of a diagramSource: Drupal.org

Supporting emerging technologies

Drupal uses the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots, virtual reality, IoT and Blockchain, cognitive search and digital voice assistants like Alexa on Drupal sites. Check out some of the Drupal-powered healthcare technologies here.

With the above mentioned features, Drupal healthcare websites can be built ensuring all the necessary security standards and requirements. 

Now, below you will get a glimpse of the drupal websites that were successfully built for the healthcare industry around the globe. 

Success Stories

You will get to witness some successful case studies around the world that depict Drupal’s extreme efforts in reaching its users expectations. 

National Nurses United

National Nurses United(NNU) can be considered as the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States. They wanted to architect, redesign and create their new website on Drupal 8. Their main requirements were to design, create and launch their website within a very tight frame. NNU wanted their website to be of light design, modern and also a content management system. Finally, the Drupal 8 website was successfully launched on time and also under the budget. The NNU team now has a modern and powerful content management system that enables their professional members to obtain required tools and information on time.

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity is one of the UK’s biggest charities, which is also an international centre of excellence in child health care. The website of the hospital provides significant information to healthcare professionals, parents and child patients. They rely upon their site to support campaigns for raising funds. The hospital’s main aim is to deliver best clinical care and training, and in partnership with other organizations, pioneer new treatments and research for the well-being of children around the globe. GOSH’s primary objective was to build a single harmonised platform that would be compiled from the migration of two large, business critical sites (30 content types and 6,000 nodes per site) and 10 sub-sites to Drupal from a proprietary software that is already outdated. The secondary objectives included prioritizing digital at the centre of all organizational activities, scalable architecture, removing complexity, platform for innovation, facility of accessibility, time-saving tools and improved search facility. Therefore, the results were as such that both the content and commerce could swiftly be intertwined, they were no more constrained by their content management system, in fact all the options were available and being capitalised, facility of suitable access privileges, and availability of flexible security boundaries were achieved with the help of Drupal’s powerful Organic Groups module. Additionally, personalization could be achieved by guiding visitors quickly to microsites and site sections for their necessities. Every section could adopt message, content, imagery, tone and Solr Search for the suitable audience. Lastly, the stakeholders could recover control and regularly adapt content. 

Conclusion

Digital transformation in healthcare is a must as it provides comprehensive patient care services with much efficiency and effectiveness. Therefore, having the right technology partner is very essential as it enables in building the foundation required for digital capacities and enhances the healthcare and patient experience to a complete whole new level. And Drupal is the best technology partner to deliver such a seamless experience for both the patients and healthcare industry.

Aug 23 2021
Aug 23

Digital transformation has become integral for businesses that want to stay afloat today and that includes every organisation in every industry. A powerful online presence that can cater to whim and need that today’s dynamic business world can throw at you is imperative. 

To make that happen, you need an equally powerful software to strengthen the foundational aspects of your online businesses, so that you can constantly keep it evolving and up-to-date with the current trends. And that is where Drupal comes in. 

An open source CMS that is equipped to handle all your business requirements specific to your industry and geographic region makes Drupal the perfect fit for all businesses.

A graph depicts the countries where Drupal is used the most.Source: Enlyft

In the twenty years of Drupal’s existence, it has taken over the world. The web development domain is more or less incomplete without it. The image above clearly shows Drupal’s presence in countries that are spread over 4 continents.

A graph shows the top industries that use Drupal.Source: EnlyftThe graph shows the top ten industries where Drupal operates as per Drupal.org.Source: Drupal.org

The Drupal Business Survey 2020 reported the top ten industries where Drupal operates.  The leading sector with the maximum respondents was education, accounting for 61.4% of all Drupal projects. While the telecom sector increased its use of Drupal, for arts and culture and charities and non-profit the story was the opposite.

It is an irrefutable fact that Drupal is a pro in identifying and providing features and opportunities that make an organisation stand out in its niche. That is why the CMS has spread its wings all over the business world, leaving no industry untouched.

And that is what we are going to be discussing today, how Drupal provides for every industry and how its versatility has garnered the most influential clientele in each sector. So, let’s begin.

Drupal Features: Catering to Every Industry

Drupal is one of the finest CMSs in the market, with features that are beyond reproach. However, that isn’t what makes it close to perfect. The reason for Drupal’s impressive success stories is its ability to provide for every use case. 

Yes, Drupal has flawless features, but it also has ample of them, making it a truly versatile CMS that can be used to cater to any and all needs an industry or business may have. 

Let’s look at them now.

Open source software community

Being an open source software, Drupal has a strong community to support its endeavours. And by strong I mean close to a million members. Much of the development of the software can be attributed to its community along with its security. 

If you are a Drupal developer, you can easily leverage upon the knowledge and solutions curated by others in the community. Any question that you may have would be answered by the community. In simple words, the Drupal community is equivalent to perpetual support for Drupal projects.

Learn more about open source here:

Strong stack foundation

Drupal works on the LAMP stack, which is Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. All four of them are individually powerful, but together they are more than that. This robust stack can guarantee you that your digital experiences would be flexible, agile and fast moving, so much so that they might seem future-proof.

Security

There isn’t a CMS that can beat Drupal in terms of security, some have come close though. Drupal’s out-of-the-box ability to counter the most detrimental vulnerabilities on the web that too with ease makes the previous statement true. From providing you the means to gain secure access, to control your user permissions and to implement data encryption, all account to a more secure site. To know more, read about the open source security and the must have Drupal modules for all your website security needs.

Scalability and performance

In terms of scalability and performance, Drupal manages to shine as well. Performance is usually associated with lesser load times, and a software that can make that happen even with a massive proportion of traffic spikes is what any industry should look for. And Drupal does just that. 

From traffic spikes to content growth, Drupal can handle it all because it is built to scale. You wouldn’t ever have to worry about any down time owing to heightened traffic. To know more, read performance optimisation techniques and the scalability provisions offered by Drupal.

Accessibility

WCAG 2.0;
ATAG 2.0

These are the two standards set by the world wide consortium that need to be followed to the T to make a site universally accessible. And guess what? Drupal adheres to both of them, and that too quite stringently. Its default features like alt text and drag and drop functionality are examples that are bound to convince you of the accessible nature of the CMS.

Learn more about accessibility here:

Content workflow

Be it content authoring or content architecture, Drupal aces both of them to provide a seamless content workflow for you. Features like the WYSIWYG editor along with a stronghold on permissions and authentications, you can rest assured that your content authors, publishers and site admins will have access to the things they need and not the ones that are beyond their clearance level. 

The flexibility provided by the content architecture equips to create it both programmatically or using an admin interface. Views and other display mode tools only add to the flexibility, making the inclusion of every kind of media type a breeze. For an advanced content editing experience, read Drupal’s Layout Builder module and Paragraphs module can help.

Headless

Drupal’s headless architecture is another game-changer. It lets you separate the development of the backend content from the frontend presentation layer. While the backend would be pretty much all Drupal-centric, the frontend could be anything you like, be it JS frameworks such as Vue, React or Angular or static site generators like Metalsmith or Gatsby. 

You can choose to not use any of the Drupal features with a fully decoupled architecture, however, if you want to keep some Drupal functionality on the frontend, you can choose progressively decoupled Drupal architecture to get the best of both worlds. 

Learn more about decoupled Drupal here:

Third party integrations

Drupal out-of-the-box has plenty of features to keep you satiated, but it cannot compensate for every tool in the market today, hence the need for Drupal integrations. The CMS is efficient at integrating itself with other tools and technologies, so that you can work with the best tools available today. 

Mobile-first approach and mobile app delivery 

Another one of Drupal’s fortes is being mobile-first. What this means is that Drupal always prioritises responsive designs that can adapt to the screen size they are being viewed on, so that you users receive an optimal user experience.

Drupal is equipped to build mobile applications to support smartphones, tablets and feature phones as well. You can build them using Drupal’s inherent toolkit and work with HTML5/CSS or you can work from Javascript. In both cases, the developed web would be fully responsive in design, however, the JS approach would lack the integration with Drupal’s theming layer; it’ll be like developing a native mobile app. To know more, read about mobile-first design approach and mobile apps like that of Flutter-powered delivered by Drupal.

Multilingual

Businesses and industries aren’t bound by geographical regions anymore, they have a global reach today. And a global presence usually comes with multilingual needs for local sites. Drupal provides 90+ languages you can choose from to create translations that are not only restricted to the content, but also transcend to configurations, so that your local admins can work efficiently. Read more about Drupal’s multilingual capabilities here.

Multisite

Like a business isn’t bound to one language, it is also not bound to one site. With multiple business branches and departments, organisations often have a site for each of them. These sites usually look alike with similar features and aesthetics. And that is where Drupal’s multisite feature comes in. You can create hundreds of sites using the same with a single codebase for easy management and minimal development time. The sites would be similar, but they would have a unique individuality too. Read this complete guide on Drupal multisite to know more.

Personalisation

Geolocation; 
Behaviour taxonomies;
Device types; 
User personas; 
Browser history; 

All five of these help an organisation understand its consumers better and provide them an experience that is personal to them. And Drupal can capitalise all five to help you apprehend your user’s and give them a personalised digital experience. 

Learn more about personalisation here:

SEO 

The SEO trends in 2021 are not going to be similar to the trends in 2020, do you agree? So, for optimal results in the SEO domain, you have to be able to get the most out of the present scenarios. And Drupal does just that. Of course, the CMS has umpteen SEO modules that would cater to most of your needs, be it links or sitemaps. However, its ability to adapt with changing trends pertaining to search intent or web automation takes the cake here. To know more, read this definitive guide to Drupal SEO in 2021.

Migration and upgrades

To be honest, up until recently Drupal migrations and upgrades were a pain, a pain that could suck the life out of you. But no more! With the roll of Drupal 9, upgrades have become as easy as easy can be. With a few simple tweaks here and some minor updates there, you can click on the update.php button and be done with the upgrade. This kind of ease is needed for businesses which cannot afford to be distracted by an upgrade for a longer span of time.

Learn more about Drupal 9 upgrade here:

Marketing automation

Marketing automation, like the name suggests, is a great tool that allows marketers to automate their job. For Drupal, marketing automation equates to real-time sales alerts, the management of consumer data, the tracking of your site’s traffic and streamlined workflows amongst other things. And tools like Marketo MA, Pardot and Hubspot with the integration with Drupal help the CMS provide much more advanced features in this realm.

Read our blog Understanding marketing automation in association with Drupal to get a better understanding of this feature.

Support for emerging technologies

On top of all of these, Drupal also supports the use of emerging technologies to provide even more astounding digital experiences. We’ve discussed marketing automation, which is one of these technologies, other than that modern JS testing, search and visualisation, design systems and a foray into augmented reality and virtual reality are trends that Drupal has been increasingly following. To know more, read about macro trends in technology and the web development trends in 2021 and where Drupal stands.

Here is an example of virtual reality at work with Drupal.

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Industry Rundown

Now that we know everything Drupal can accomplish, let's take into account the same features and more in regards to the various industries Drupal provides for. We’ll be looking at the different business sectors individually and see if there are specific Drupal features that make it ideal for that particular sector, followed by examples from the same industry where Drupal has worked its magic.

Ecommerce and Retail 

The best place to start the industry conversation has to be the online retail therapy. Yes, I am talking about the ecommerce, retail and distribution sector. Although they might be considered different, they function in much the same way and it is a sector that is valued in trillions.

So, what does Drupal have to offer that is unparalleled?

Well, four things actually.

  • First is Drupal Commerce, it's a tool unlike any other, which acts as a one stop destination for all things ecommerce. From payment gateways and tax calculations to unique product pages, it can do it all. And ecommerce sites are thankful for it.
  • Second would be the headless integrations. Drupal allows you to use Drupal commerce along with JavaScript to build our frontend through decoupling. 
  • Third is Drupal’s ability to scale with ease, which comes in handy when ecommerce sites experience traffic spikes during sale season.
  • Finally, the delivery of content on multiple channels with easy content authoring experience even on mobile devices only adds to Drupal’s compatibility with ecommerce platforms.

Along with these, Drupal’s proficiency at SEO, multilingual support, secure architecture and even multiple currency management make it the perfect choice for every ecommerce and retail business. Here are two of the most famous ecommerce platforms on Drupal. Read about Drupal’s provisions for ecommerce websites and the benefits of implementing content-driven commerce to know more.

Eldum Rett

The homepage of Eldum Rett is shown.


Eldum Rett is a leading food delivery and subscription service provider in Iceland. With an annual turnover of 7 million USD, it needed to provide exemplary service to its thousands of consumers to maintain its momentum and grow simultaneously.

The brand needed flexibility to enhance its user experience and with Drupal that was pretty convenient. It was transitioning into a new native app that could handle the complexity it wanted to build on. Drupal provided a ton of functionality out-of-the-box and you could add on it as well and that’s what Eldum Rett wanted. It leveraged Drupal’s impeccable ability to extend itself through its APIs and Eldum Rett was able to launch itself. 

King Arthur Baking Company

The homepage of King Arthur Baking Company is shown.


When you think about baking, your mind instantly moves to recipes that could help you a great deal during family events. These recipes are what King Arthur Baking Company wanted to prioritise. With a history of over 200 years, the brand wanted itself to be associated with making people fall in love with baking. 

So, Drupal was chosen to help the business realise its goal as the CMS checked all the right boxes. It prioritised recipes, so that the experienced bakers could browse, save and print any of the 2000 recipes and the new bakers could get a step by step on a clean recipe page without any confusion. 

Furthermore, Drupal also provided scalability and better performance along with an innovative flair for the future. 

Fintech, Banking and Finance  

If there is an industry that needs the most heightened level of security, I would say that it is the banking sector. Amongst all of the open source and even proprietary CMSs, Drupal’s robust security measures are almost unmatched and for sensitive financial data, you cannot settle for less than that. 

Add to this Drupal’s ability to integrate with other platforms for marketing and payments and you would be left with an ideal answer to your need for a fintech and banking website. Here is further proof for that. Read about Drupal’s provision for the fintech industry and the significance of digital transformation for the fintech segment to know more.

The Carlyle Group 

The homepage of The Carlyle Group's website can be seen.


A leading name in the fintech industry and one of the top five equity firms in the world, the brand needed an equally powerful companion for its online presence. As a fintech company it needed two things; 

  • An easy and natural editorial experience; 
  • And bulletproof security; 

Both of which rank quite high on Drupal’s repertoire of features. With the successful fulfilment of the project, The Carlyle Group was able to attain more leads, heightened session durations and increased organic traffic.

Eastern Bank 

The homepage of Eastern Bank can be seen.


One of the oldest and largest mutual banks in the United States, the Eastern bank needed a solution to revamp its brand among other things and Drupal could provide them all. 

The bank chose Drupal for several reasons. 

  • Being a banking institution, it had a lot of sensitive information and Drupal offered a semblance of a guarantee in terms of security along with testing prior to an update.
  • The bank had a number of campaigns that were being managed in several different microsites, Drupal’s multisite feature resolved that too. 
  • The need for flexibility in content editing and control over user access were also provided by Drupal.
  • Finally, the site had to be accessible, and Drupal’s accessibility features ensured that the project got an AA level clearance.

High Tech 

I say high tech, but I mean technology that is constantly updating and evolving. Do you agree? And for everything that is dynamic, there can’t be a better choice than Drupal. 

The CMS is synonymous with concepts of flexibility and scalability, making it provide for the business sector that is focused on advanced technologies. These two examples will tell you why. 

Olympus Learn Center 

The homepage of Olympus Learn Centre is shown.


Olympus is a world leader in creating digital and optical solutions that make our lives healthier, safer and more content. Having been founded over a century ago, the business is still a pioneer in the high tech sector. 

It needed a consistent and flexible technology to provide an enhanced user experience that was a sumtotal of its modern design, stability and an elevated performance. 

Hence, Drupal was chosen. The platform was highly scalable and mobile first, with thousands of modules that were continuously enhanced and improved by its open source community, which meant whatever the solution was, it was definitely going to be long-term and it was.

CloudHealth 

The homepage of CloudHealth is shown.


CloudHealth Tech is known to manage entire cloud ecosystems for businesses and that too cost-effectively. It was intended to be a massive source of lead generation for its clients. So, to be efficient it took to Drupal. 

Drupal is as agile as it is flexible. This ability makes supporting marketing initiatives quite handy. Add to this, the CMS’ offerings in the form of high developer velocity and an pretty convenient editorial experience, the result is nothing short of exemplary. 

CloudHealth was able to transform its blog completely with more than 100% increase in pageviews and users. That’s the power of Drupal. 

Government 

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about a government website? For me that is security. If a government site isn;t secure, the repercussions could be colossal. Don’t you agree?

The next thing is accessibility, the government is for all the citizens. So, it needs to take account of its disabled citizens too and that can only be done by complying to the web accessibility standards. 

Of course, features like scalability and flexibility come quite handy for a government project. More about Drupal’s exceptional capabilities for powering government sites here.

Let’s take a look at the one such government site having built on Drupal.

City of Boston 

The homepage of City of Boston is shown.


The City of Boston site was quite old and way behind time and it needed a major revamp. Drupal was chosen as the CMS for the rebuild for many reasons. 

  • Drupal’s open source community was one of the major reasons, as the massive developer pool could help the site in maneuvering the changing environment. 
  • Drupal also religiously complies to accessibility standards, making the boston.gov get to AA compliance on accessibility.
  • Drupal’s iterative approach towards development was also a parameter. 
  • Drupal’s mobile first approach made it quite responsive to all devices, since that was a priority, Drupal became the ideal choice.

The site owners also wanted the website to be interactive and engage its audience in future developments and that is exactly what Drupal made possible. With over 600 emails received from the constituents, about 88% of them suggested ways to improve the website.

The City of Boston website has come a long way with Drupal at its back.

Sports, Music, Arts and Entertainment 

This is a pretty diverse sector, but one that has pretty much the same needs and requirements with a tendency to experience massive traffic spikes.

  • For one these websites need integrations, and bucket loads of them, to provide features and experience one software alone may not be able to. 
  • And second, they need content capabilities that are beyond average with editorial workflows that help content creators instead of burdening them.

And Drupal can fulfil both of these requirements. Read about Drupal’s provisions for digital media and sports industry to know more. Here are some success stories.

The Beatles 

The homepage of The Beatles website is shown.


A profound sense of flexibility; 
And the adaptive ability to add on any possible feature through an API framework; 

These two pretty much sum of the project that led to the development of The Beatles Official Website. It needed just the right controls of content curation and user registration along with aesthetically pleasing themes that also served well on the technical front, plus the addition of a suitable hosting architecture; all of which Drupal was pleased to provide. And the site turned out to be pretty amazing. 

Sport England 

The homepage of Sports England is shown.


Being scalable; 
Being content-rich; 
Being secure; 
And being able to easily manage assets; 

These were the requirements of the Sport England website and Drupal excelled at fulfilling all of them. The layout builder module helped with the content and custom solutions, the API integrations added further functionality and the ability to manage the site without much technical assistance made the site owners quite happy.

Travel, Tourism and Hospitality 

When you go to a travel and hospitality site, what are the things that you look for? For me, there are plenty of different aspects that need to suit my palate before I settle, call me picky if you have to. 

  • The site has to have to right content, some even personalised for me and my needs; 
  • The site has to be one of the top ranking ones on Google because I am not going to scroll all the way down and book the last result, so being SEO friendly is needed; 
  • The site has to be easy to navigate, so that I can see it in all its glory without getting lost in the maze; 
  • The site has to be mobile friendly, I would not always open it on my laptop; 
  • The site has to have secure payment gateways; 
  • And finally, the site should be multilingual, I must be able to read what’s on there to get dazzled by it. 

These may seem too much, but trust me all of these are necessities in the travel and hospitality industry. Can Drupal provide in this segment? Know more about Drupal’s offerings for the travel and tourism industry here. Here are some success stories. 

VisitTheUSA.com 

The homepage of VisitTheUSA.com can be seen.


VisitTheUSA.com is a site under Brand USA. It needed to come out of its proprietary software’s limitations and test Drupal without any licensing costs and a boundless scope of development. And Drupal did not disappoint. 

The project, upon its completion, had everything it had set out to accomplish. 

  • It was able to optimise the frontend performance as well as build the majority of the features outside of Drupal. 
  • It was able to capitalise on Internationalism and get seamless translations without any hassle of writing a new code. 
  • It was able to get the right trip planning tools from integrations with Instagram and TripAdvisor.
  • And it was able to provide interactive features to its audience. 

Lonely Planet 

The homepage of Lonely Planet can be seen.


Lonely Planet is a renowned travel company with a multitude of resources, ranging from guide books to web content and mobile apps; it even has its own travel community. 

With that kind of presence, the brand had bucket loads of content that it needed to be managed. And when content management is in question, you do not have to look further than Drupal. And add to that Drupal APIs and its decoupled nature, you have a winner on your side. 

  • Drupal provided an impeccable control over content architecture; 
  • Drupal as a content repository is pretty much perfect and synced marvelously with React in this case; 
  • Drupal also provided a versatile migration API. 

Manufacturing and Energy  

There aren’t any specific features that need to be in a manufacturing and energy business. For manufacturing, the features usually coincide with ecommerce and retail because if you are to build, you are going to sell. And energy companies are usually more on the lines of being informational, so the needs usually pertain to content workflows being flexible.

American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy

The homepage of ACEEE can be seen.


As the name suggests, the company is bi-partisan non-profit that promotes energy-efficient solutions and strives to fight climate change. 

For its website, it needed to provide a mobile-friendly experience to its audience. Since Drupal 8 is all for being mobile-first that was an easy win. It also needed content features that were flexible and incorporated imagery, and Drupal can provide that too. Using the CMS, ACEEE was able to achieve easy content filtering for searches, have topic pages and share events, both from the present and the past. All in all the user experience improved by a substantial amount.

First4Numbers 

The homepage of First4Numbers can be seen.


The brand is renowned for printing bespoke numbers for sporting events and being the supplier of the London 2012 Olympics.

Their site was already built on Drupal 6, all they needed was to get the site upgraded to Drupal 7 and a few additional functionalities. 

  • One of them was the automation of the ordering process, which had to be intuitive for novice users and be an advanced version of the somewhat antiquated process they already had. 
  • And second, they planned to go global, so the site was to be built to scale to accommodate the hike in traffic going global would entail along with additional languages for the better reach. 

Real Estate and Urban Planning 

Real estate and urban planning, both are associated with infrastructure, but the former is self-owned and operated and the latter is government run. So, their needs tend to be a little different. 

While real estate sites are all about aesthetics, minimal themes and more importantly, a massive image gallery, urban planning focuses on people and tries to hear them and make them feel heard. Let’s find how Drupal caters to these two.

Talk London 

The homepage of Talk London is shown.


Talk London does just that, it allows Londoners to talk with the authorities at the City Hall and do their part in formulating urban planning strategies. 

The goal was to create a secure and engaging site and that was easy with Drupal. The user generated content functionality was enhanced along with adding email notifications and flexible content layouts. And the result was an increase by a third in subscriptions in 2021.

Domu 

The homepage of Domu can be seen.


Domu is a website that offers real estate listings to rent in the Chicago area. From lofts, houses, apartments and condos, it has a pretty wide selection.

Domu wanted simplicity and ease for people looking for rental space and the landlords looking to post their properties. So, it decided to overhaul it existing design for a more breezy one. 

Emphasis was placed on; 

  • Adding more functionality for landlords; 
  • Providing previews to them: 
  • Making listings more informative, with area, neighbourhood and property names;
  • Making updates to existing listings easy; 
  • And giving tutorials for posting images of the properties.

Beauty, fashion and blogging 

Not to sound like a broken record, but there aren’t any specific features pertaining to these sites that would make them different from the rest of the sites. The beauty and fashion industry may align with the retail and ecommerce sector. However, the blogging sites are a different story, they are considered one of the simplest, if not the simplest, site to build.

Estee Lauder 

The homepage of Estee Lauder can be seen.


If you are into beauty, you must have heard of Estee Lauder, being a high-end cosmetic brand. And it chose Drupal for its decoupling ability, so that it could use the CMS to separately build its learning management system. As a result, its learning platform could create resources without conducting classroom sessions and train people at different locations and not have to repeat anything. The availability over online and offline mediums removed any further restrictions. 

The brand also took advantage of Drupal’s multilingual properties, built the site to scale and found a resolution to monitor user performance.

Bond Lifestyle 

The home page of Bond Lifestyle can be seen.


This is a blogging site solely dedicated to everything associated with 007, from his apparel and accessories to his adversaries’, you can know everything about the Bond movies. 

With Drupal, the site was able to gain all the right functionalities needed for a successful implementation. These included;

  • A picturesque homepage; 
  • A product overview page with a content list for easy perusal; 
  • A detailed product page; 
  • And organised content with Drupal taxonomies.

Startups and small business 

Startups and small businesses have one thing in common and that is the fact that they do not have large amounts of cash rolling out. They usually work on a limited budget and Drupal can handle that pretty well. Since it is open source, there are minimal costs and zero licensing fees. If you have certain knowledge of the CMS itself, you can build a site for free.

Here are two small businesses that are pretty close to being startups with very different reasons for choosing Drupal.

GoIntro 

The home page of GoIntro can be seen.


GoIntro is an online platform that allows students and employers to connect with each other through an online career fair. The site is an example of decoupled Drupal with Angular on the frontend. 

The project was primarily divided into three segments; 

  • The organisers
  • The employers 
  • And the students

All three had their own ecosystems and functionalities. For instance, the students got to create their own profiles, which would display their skills and personal information and they can choose to attend only the events they are interested in. On top of this, Drupal’s ability to handle any kind of content and could be scaled to any limits made it an even more perfect fit for GoIntro.

Cannabis Yukon 

The home page of Cannabis Yukon is shown.


The legality of cannabis is still a contentious issue all over the globe. Therefore, when the Government of Yukon had to build their cannabis retail, their paramount concern was to protect the privacy of its users. That is why Drupal was chosen, to have total and complete control over the consumer data. This along with Drupal Commerce and the fact the Government of Yukon website was already on Drupal, the decision was final.

Healthcare 

The healthcare sector is an important one, given COVID, you could say it is imperative for each one of us. In terms of its online presence, the healthcare industry mandates three things. 

  • It needs to be able to protect patient data through better security; 
  • It needs to be able to new functionalities with easy integrations; 
  • It needs to be able to provide customised user experiences.

Has Drupal been able to provide these?

Yes.

Aster Hospitals 

The home page of Aster Hospitals can be seen.


A leading healthcare provider in the Middle East and India, Aster Hospital wishes to provide healthcare within the reach of millions more. And it wanted all of its sites to showcase the same brand identity and provide the same kind of experience.

With Drupal, it got to work with customisable themes that meant a number of things for the brand; 

  • It could enable faceted search features; 
  • It could now streamline content authoring; 
  • It could build pages based on individual components;
  • And it could have autonomy over creating and updating region-specific pages. 

The Claro theme, layout builder and paragraphs helped in successfully developing their Drupal 9 site.

Higher Education

What do you think a website for a university would need to have to provide a great experience to its users and admins? 

The answer lies in four things: 

  • One, it is to be multi-functional. From students publishing their work online to teachers being able to integrate with zoom to conduct an online session, the website needs to check all the right boxes for education.
  • Two, it needs to be scalable to handle high volumes of traffic, your website cannot crash on the last day of the admissions, otherwise students would be very upset.
  • Third, it needs multiple sites for multiple departments with a sense of individuality for each of them. The content for the geology department cannot be the same as physics, am I right?
  • Finally, a university site needs to be secure, it has tons of information of both the faculty and the students and it needs to be able to protect the same.

Do you think Drupal can provide all of this? I think, yes and pretty conveniently too. To know more, read about Drupal’s offering for elearning platform and how you can devise a content strategy for higher education sites with Drupal. Following is once such success story:

Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs 

The home page of Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs can be seen.


Princeton is a name we’ve all heard and awed at and Drupal was chosen by the esteemed university to create the online persona of its School of Public and International affairs. 

What did Drupal achieve?

  • Drupal made the staff work less because it could showcase courses, events and news amongst other external data without manual updates. 
  • Drupal reduced the development time because it was able to reuse themes, modules and UI patterns to create a pretty consistent experience throughout the website. 
  • Drupal provided a heightened level of flexibility in design and layout because of tools like layout builder.
  • Drupal also made it quite convenient for the content editors to create and manage data. 

The outcome was a site that both the site owners and users were satiated with.

Conclusion 

Remember the 16 features we discussed in the beginning of this blog, it is those 16 features that make Drupal competent to cater to any need a user may have. All the industries we discussed and the solutions they were able to create were built using those 16 Drupal attributes and not all of them to be honest, but still the result was never in dearth of functionalities, being as close to perfection as possible. And that is why Drupal is always going to be ready and willing to serve every industry.

Aug 17 2021
Aug 17

If I compare my present self to the me that was five years ago, I would see a lot of changes in the way I dress, in the way I speak and most importantly, in my professional life and the position I have gained in my career. For me, I am proud of all the changes. I deserve a pat on the back. 

The same is true for software, if humans change over time, the software they build is bound to change too. And that is what we are going to be talking about today. 

Drupal is 20 and its 9th edition has rolled out with the 10th being on the horizon. The software has undergone a lot of changes in its existence, there have been a lot of versions of Drupal and all of them have been outstanding. Like me, Drupal also deserves a pat on its virtual back.

Updating is often associated with moving forward and what possible harm can be experienced in doing that. So, it is evident that people are going to want to move towards the latest version of Drupal by updating to Drupal 9. 

With the last Drupal upgrade, being a major version, and the massive amounts of work and effort it required, some of us are hesitant and they are probably right. However, it isn’t needed.

According to Drupal.org

Drupal 9 brings forward all the features from Drupal 8 and carries on its continuous innovation with new features twice a year.

What this means is Drupal 9 is equal to Drupal 8 minus the deprecated APIs, making it a minor version upgrade. So, logically the upgrade would not mandate an overhaul of your site’s infrastructure and it doesn’t. The image below describes this notion pretty well. 

The differences between Drupal versions is shown.


In this blog, I would not be talking about the upgrade process itself, wherein we look everywhere from Drupal core to custom code, but the tools that would be needed for it. So, let’s start assembling the upgrade tooling and prepare for Drupal 9.

All the Drupal 9 upgrade tools are mentioned in a circular diagram.


Upgrade Status 

Drupal 9 readiness cannot be talked about without the mention of upgrade status. It is the paramount tool necessary to make the upgrade successful. 

So, what does it do?

It performs just about every major function required to make you ready for the upgrade. 

What might those entail?

Makes you update to a current version 

For the upgrade, you need to be on the latest version of Drupal 8, which can be either Drupal 8.8 or Drupal 8.9. Upgrade status not only checks the version you are on, but also suggests you to update so it doesn’t skip your mind.

Makes you check system necessities 

The upgrade also has specific system requirements, from Apache to php to MySQL, each one of these needs to be updated to a version that would align with the upgrade. And guess what? Upgrade status checks whether you meet the requirements or not. 

Makes you focus on contributed projects 

From system requirements, let’s move on to contributed modules. This upgrade tool has the ability to integrate itself with Update Status to remind you about the contributed projects and their update. Usually a D8 project is compatible with D9, so when you update them, they would still work fine with your Drupal 8 site.

Makes you address other compatibility issues

You would think that these three should be enough, but that’s not it. There are a whole bunch of Drupal 9 compatibility issues, which need to be addressed through a phpstan run. And upgrade status can do that as well. 

Upgrade status can also integrate itself with drush. You would need to install it with Composer. If I had to describe upgrade status and its work as a Drupal 9 upgrade tool, I would simply say that it is a tool that checks whether you are prepared and ready to hit the final update button.

Drupal Check

The next important tool to migrate to Drupal 9 is Drupal check. PHPStan was developed as a static analysis tool that can run standalone PHP executable from the command line.

What does that accomplish?

The accomplishments are on the lines of deprecated code. Drupal check would report any and all deprecated code being used on your site. In other words, it would check the correctness of your project by highlighting all the errors.

For a seamless upgrade, you need your system to be 100% Drupal 9 compatible, this includes the custom code, the custom modules, the contributed modules and the migration code, if you are upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. 

But this sounds similar to Upgrade Status.

Yes, it does. There are some similarities between Drupal check and upgrade status in the fact that both work towards establishing Drupal 9 compatibility. However, I would say that upgrade status does so at a much larger scale.

Upgrade Rector and Drupal Rector

Would you prefer using an automated mechanism to catch the unwanted deprecated APIs before the D9 upgrade or would you prefer to do it manually? I am pretty sure your answer would resemble mine and be the former choice. 

And those automated deprecation checks and code fixes come with Upgrade Rector. This also allows you to make patches for both custom and contributed projects through suggestions. In essence, Upgrade Rector is Drupal’s integrated UI for Drupal Rector. 

So, what is Drupal Rector?

Before I get into Drupal Rector, let’s understand the story of Rector a bit. It is a tool that automated PHP code upgrades and comprehended PHP to make room for complex edge cases. 

Now, Drupal Rector took that concept and implemented it on Drupal. Its predecessor was Drupal 8 Rector. The goal here was to efficiently automate code updates from Drupal 8 to 9. 

What does it do?

As a set of Rector rules, Drupal Rector upgrades a deprecated API used in Drupal. You would have noticed that I did not use the plural form as in deprecated APIs because that isn’t the scope of this tool as of yet. 

Don’t be disappointed. Why?

It is because the deprecated API it targets accounts to about a quarter of all API deprecations. So, using this tool would save you a ton of time and effort and eliminate any chance of human oversight since the process is automated. 

Of course, there are future plans for the automated tool. The hope is to integrate it with Drupal.org and create Rector rules for as many as 15 most common deprecated API uses.

IDE

There is a chance that you might be using an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) or code editor to develop your Drupal code. 

What should you do if that is the case?

The answer is use an IDE or code editor which can comprehend and identify deprecations easily and effectively. 

Why is that important?

There are two reasons for that; 

  • One is related to visibility. If your IDE understands deprecations, it would very much make them visible even during the development process. 
  • And secondly, it would cancel calls to deprecated methods and further inform you of the right call to make.

PHPStorm is one example of an IDE tool that comes quite handy when considering an upgrade to Drupal 9.

Drupal.org Testing Support 

For further deprecation checks, the drupal.org testing support also provides ways to identify the unwanted.

You can do this by executing your module’s test suite and configuring it to fail upon reaching a deprecated code path, you would have to widen your test coverage for the most optimal results. There is also the option of using PHPStan to generate a build artifact that would not impede the testing of your project.

Again, there are some similarities between this tool and upgrade status and Drupal check because of the PHPStan run.

Module Upgrader 

The Module Upgrader is a tool more focused on projects that are on Drupal 7. Following a command-line script with the ability to scan the source of a D7 module, it can accentuate code that isn’t compatible with Drupal 8 or 9. 

How does it work?

  • It flags the code which needs to be updated; 
  • It highlights the API changes, if necessary; 
  • It can also convert the D7 code to D8 or 9 in an automated manner.

What is the outcome?

You would be left with updated modules that would not have any deprecated APIs in their code. Once that happens, you become one step closer to actually upgrading to Drupal 9. Remember that a Drupal 8 module without any deprecations is a good enough Drupal 9 module, because the only difference between the two is the deprecated APIs.

Migrate Tools 

The name is clear enough, Migrate Tools is a module that provides additional tools for running as well as managing migrations to Drupal 8. 

It works with Drush and provides commands for easy management. 

  • You can get see the list of migrations and their status; 
  • You can perform import and rollback operations; 
  • You can stop a running operation with ease; 
  • You can list fields available for mapping and view messages pertinent to migrations. 

These may seem small functionalities to have, but they can add a lot of convenience to make the easiest upgrade of the decade a lot more easy.

Migrate Plus 

The Migrate Plus project comes with extensions to the core migration framework functionality and examples. It can be easily implemented as configuration entities that are adaptive in terms of loading, modifications and then being saved.

For a better understanding of the Drupal 9 upgrade, you can read our blog Drupal 9 upgrade: FAQs and all your questions would be answered. And to learn more about Drupal 9, check out:

Conclusion

There you have it, all the necessary tools that would be required to kickstart your upgrade process, which needs to happen before November 21, 2021. To end this blog, here is a recent discussion that happened in DrupalCon North America 2021 that would highlight the same for you.

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Aug 16 2021
Aug 16

We are living in a digital era. Our lives have dramatically changed over the years. Such a digital transformation is also witnessed by the various business industries which are constantly striving to level up their work standards and ethics. Today, let’s look into one of the industries that is flourishing towards digital innovation and transformation: travel and tourism. This article will also give you an insight about how Drupal proves to be the best choice when it comes to technology in the travel industry. 

Emerging digital transformation trends in the travel and tourism industry

A diagram describing the emerging technology trends in the travel and tourism industry


The growing need of digital transformation has given rise to the following trends impacting the travel industry. Here are the following technology trends that are enabling the reshaping of the tourism industry. 

Rise of mobile Integration

Cloud technologies and international mobile plans have made mobile devices highly prevalent and an important part of the travel journey since it provides facilities like online booking, easy mobile payment, and acquiring destination information in real time. It is observed that the mobile’s share of total digital ad spending in the travel industry is gradually increasing over desktop ads and will cover the majority of the travel industry’s ad spending in the future. Due to the facility of mobile responsiveness, the consumption of digital travel content can be seen growing rapidly around the world via smartphones, the most feasible medium to plan the exotic vacations and choose the best travel destination. People are today seen spending hours over their phones scrolling the various social media platforms. Such social media platforms prove to be a good medium to inspire travel and also improve the travel business for the travel and tourism industry. 

Availability of AI and Chatbots

Artificial intelligence and chatbots help customers in digital check-in, voice assistants, easy access to digital concierge services and smart rooms. You can experience a seamless travel by this technology since it provides customised and personalized service according to your preferences. 

Integration of IoT

IoT helps in building a data rich tourism sector that leads to enhancing customer experience. The facilities like interoperability of data, sensors and automation that further helps in producing real time understanding and information for properly managing tourism can be obtained. It also brings improvement in the visitor experiences and increases the operational efficiencies that enable to successfully provide the best travel services to the enthusiastic travelers. One of the unique innovations of this technology is an IoT device called wearable. So, wearables or  wearable technology is adopted by travel agents across the globe to fulfill the growing need of personalized services from travelers. It enhances the communication with the travelers since all they look for is solutions in their fingertips and which is attainable with this technology. Therefore, wearable technology is rapidly growing among the people as it proves to be one of the significant travel innovations of the present world. The main motive of this technology is to  simplify the experience of a traveler and make it frictionless. 

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality helps in capturing the tourism destinations in an immersive and unique way. The users can feel the experience of “being there” with this special technology which the usual images and videos of various destinations cannot offer. A user can witness the most realistic virtual reality travel experience with the VR headsets. The travel agents use this technology to help their clients get a better experience than just viewing regular brochures and computer screens. Here is an example where VR is adopted. In the Marriott Hotels, the guests are offered VR experiences which can be enjoyed from the comfort of their rooms. 

Cloud-based solutions

The cloud-based infrastructure has various benefits. One of the most significant benefits is the cost reduction. For example, TUI, a European travel company, was able to reduce its technology costs at the time of COVID 19 by scaling down the cloud usage.  Another benefit of cloud computing is agility. It helps in reducing the time to deploy new products and services to customers and employees. Due to the pandemic, cloud-based technology proves to be a good option. Since majorly, employees are seen working remotely, this technology provides an easy access to critical information that helps employees to smoothly carry out their work responsibilities. 

Focusing on Data

Digitalization helps in the acquisition, collection and interpretation of the consumer data. This further helps in understanding the customer preferences and behavioural patterns that allows companies to offer best services and experiences to their customers. Here is an example of an Australian airline, Qantas who in partnership with unified customer data platform Umbel, has built a data hub focused on customer behaviours and preferences which will further enhance the customer experience. In-flight services, check-in process and real time ticket booking facilities are personalized for the customers. 

Building reputation

Brand reputation can be built with technology by providing the feedback facility to its customers. On receiving the best services, the customers can share their opinions through various mediums like Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp and travel review websites. This also works as an encouragement for the various brands to provide quality services to maintain a good relationship with their trustworthy customers. It is also found that ninety five percent of people majorly depend on the brand’s reviews before opting for it.

Providing safety and security

Safety and security have always been one of the top-most priorities for the travel and tourism industry. Technology should aim at creating innovation and enhancing security. A traveler’s journey can be made trouble free by providing seamless safety processes. For example, Aruba Happy Flow can be considered as an innovative scheme which requires passengers to show their passport only once on every journey. The primary means of recognizing passengers and helping them throughout the entire airport journey is via facial recognition. The governments of Aruba and the Netherlands, Aruba Airport Security, KLM, Schiphol Group and stakeholders consider it to be an important innovation in security clearance. 

How digitalization can help the tourism industry to recover from the pandemic, COVID 19?

Many companies have felt the need of adapting digitalization post the pandemic, COVID 19. The pandemic is encouraging companies to modify their approaches regarding various functionalities. They look forward to being more resilient. It is important to be able to withstand all the uncertainties that the business encounters because of COVID 19. The companies can find ways with the help of technology like increasing their remote workforce that will stabilize their current hard situations. And being agile is the key to sustenance for the present tough times. The agility in business helps in quickly adapting and scaling the business against the prevailing competition. The companies which have already integrated digital processes into their company culture even before the pandemic, weren’t seen struggling much like the companies which restricted themselves from adopting such essential digital procedures. Therefore, companies are seen embracing digitalization in today’s time. For example, Hyatt hotels are putting an effort to introduce their improved digital facilities via hyatt.com and the World of Hyatt app which will allow its customers to communicate better while revealing their preferences and choices over the different services offered by them. To know more, read about pandemic-driven digital transformation, how businesses are reimagining their business operations, and how to be digitally ready no matter what.

Why choose Drupal?

Illustration diagram describing the Drupal features


Drupal is a safe and highly reliable platform that provides a wide range of features that helps in creating rich digital experiences for the travel and tourism industry. So, let me take you through the exclusive Drupal features explained below.  

Open source

The Drupal project is fully open-source software. Anyone is free to download, use, work on and also share it with others.  It is based on principles like innovation, collaboration and globalism. It can be further distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). There are no licensing fees for Drupal.

The Drupal community is always ready to support its users by answering their questions and concerns. So, if you have any question, somebody will certainly answer it, since it’s a worldwide platform.

Learn more about open source here:

Content workflow

Drupal’s in-built tools enable content creation, workflow and publishing, also allowing the content creators or content managers to smoothly work on it. In this platform, editorial workflows can be managed effectively by permission and authentication that is easily available. The preview provision allows visibility of how the content will be displayed on a device even before approving and publishing the content. It helps in creating content with a WYSIWYG editor. You also get the facility to quickly track all revisions and changes, if you feel the need of maintaining the history of content changes. So, every stage of content, from creating, reviewing, and publishing can be viewed that further helps in managing your roles and responsibilities. Drupal has a special feature where you get the opportunity to create a structured content like describing content elements, tagging content based on any attributes, forming appropriate taxonomy for content so that it can be searched, used, reused if needed to improve the customer satisfaction. 

You get a chance to create a relevant content architecture utilizing the Admin Interface or also do it programmatically. It facilitates you with special mode tools and views, customized menus that provide a comfortable user experience, and also form pathways to content over several devices. 

Read about how layout builder and paragraphs module enhance content workflow in Drupal.

Security

Drupal CMS provides security from all types of web vulnerabilities and threats. It keeps robust security as a priority. You will find a team of security experts that look after all the security concerns with their well structured coding standards and strict review coding procedure. Since, security is given much emphasis by Drupal, it has a broad professional service provider security that makes it one of the most stable and secure open-source platforms. So, Drupal websites are built by maintaining all the required security and privacy for the users. One more important security aspect to be discussed is, ‘Drupal Commerce’ that supports the core payment API, for an easy payment collection process through the check out form while travelling via airways. 

According to the 2020 edition of the Acunetix, Web Application Vulnerability Report, Drupal was found to be the most secure CMS in the open source CMS market.

Illustration with a circle describing the minimal security issues of Drupal CMS Source: Acunetix

Scalability and performance

The in-built performance features of Drupal when combined with a modern CDN provider performs extremely well under the pressure of supercharged databases, load balancing and advanced caching. Even on the busiest days, Drupal's scalability allows your website to perform exceptionally well. To know more, read about Drupal’s performance optimisation offerings and how it scales with your needs to govern high web traffic.

Multilingual

Drupal’s automated language translation makes it possible to reach out to different audiences with the facility of localized content. Drupal is an expert in building complex multilingual web applications and customized sites in numerous languages. Drupal’s core modules help in complete translation of each part of a site, content types and their specific fields, users, menus, blocks, taxonomy, comments and contact forms. It further helps in specifying the preferred language in accordance with the user’s IP address, URL, session, browser settings and much more. Read more about Drupal’s multilingual capabilities here.

Accessibility

Drupal facilitates an exclusive feature of building websites that can be accessible by people with disabilities. It ensures that all its features conform with the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines (W3C) guidelines: WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 2.0. This a very significant feature as it helps in providing equal accessibility to everyone regardless of any discrimination. 

Learn more about accessibility here:

Personalisation

Drupal’s users get a special, personalized profile for each visitor like using geolocation, behavior taxonomies, browser history and device type. Drupal also provides a customized experience which helps in tracking and reporting with A/B and multivariate testing, improving ROI by target marketing and also segment users over devices with an aim on the significant user identity for your business goals.

Learn more about personalisation here:

SEO 

The users of Drupal get access to exclusive SEO tools that help in improving the site’s visibility. The tools and modules are discussed below.

To know more, read this definitive guide to Drupal SEO in 2021.

Multisite support 

You can handle various websites over your organization, geographies, brands and campaigns on a single platform, allowing easy, fast website creation and deployment with Drupal. Read this ultimate guide on Drupal multisite to know more.

Marketing automation

By using modules and tools in latest versions, Drupal enables smooth integration with the automation platforms which can collect customer demographics, and convert potential leads within the suitable time. Learn more about how marketing automation can be leveraged with Drupal here.

Mobile first approach and mobile apps

Drupal facilitates in creating web applications and responsive websites that further enhances the user experience. It provides the best practices of responsive design and also makes sure that your users attain excellent content experience each time, on every device. And, there are two ways of building mobile web applications which work with Drupal - integrated with Drupal at the theme layer, or a standalone mobile web app that communicates with Drupal using web services. Even though, both the approaches will work for building mobile web applications, it will be much easier to begin with integrating the mobile web app into Drupal as a theme. To know more, read about mobile-first design approach and mobile apps like that of Flutter-powered delivered by Drupal.

Integrated Digital Tools and Applications

Drupal smoothly integrates with a broad ecosystem of digital marketing technology and other business applications that enable you to select the right set of tools today and tomorrow according to your convenience.

Strong Stack Foundation

Drupal lives upon Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, the latest LAMP technology stack that meet the necessities of flexible, fast-moving agile companies and brands  which further creates the next generation digital platforms.

Facilitates Decoupled Architecture

One of the significant features of Drupal is the content flexibility that helps in easy flow of content over sites, native apps, which can be presented on third party sites and social networks. Since, many CMSes look for managing content in a back-end repository and move it to “front-end” which can provide an experience i.e mostly static. You get an option to to decouple the back and front ends, wherever it's required. Therefore, Drupal content remains as reusable chunks, which is free from presentation and is also ready for smooth delivery to sites and applications. With the help of Drupal’s presentation i.e. RESTful API and neutral content, the front end developers can build interactive sites and applications without facing any restrictions. There is availability of tools like Node, Angular, Backbone, Ember etc. The third-party content(eg. syndicators and aggregators) can be attained and made available to any site, application, or channel under this free and open source platform. With the help of Drupal’s content-as-a-service capability, the content of Drupal can be consumed easily by any other sites and applications. Additionally, Drupal’s front end developers also get the opportunity of designing content smoothly such as separating back-end content from front-end presentation according to their preferences. 

Learn more about decoupled Drupal here:

Web Hosting

You can select the convenient hosting vendor that suits your needs with Drupal. Also, you get the opportunity to change hosting vendors whenever you want and select to host the website internally. 

Migrations

Drupal upgrades can be considered easy and convenient. Upgrading Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 was very easy, confirmed by the makers. With these four simple steps, you can develop your present site’s functionality, and maintain proper safety standards of Drupal 9 by using the Upgrade Status. With Upgrade Status and Drupal Module Upgrader, the developers can easily make the upgrade themselves. Additionally, you also specify whether your themes and modules are competent for Drupal 8/9, and also convert your custom code suitably.

Learn more about Drupal 9 upgrade here:

Extensibility

Drupal facilitates its users with various essential modules, themes and distributions. Let us first discuss some of the modules offered by Drupal. The first module is IP Geolocation Views & Maps. IP Geolocation Views & Maps (IPGV&M) is basically a mapping engine. This module very easily helps you in creating views-based mapping solutions utilizing the map renderer of your preferred choice (Google, OpenLayers2 or Leaflet) with any location storage module of your wish, e.g., Get Locations, Geofield, Geolocation Field or Location. It enables you in bringing together both modules and feature sets which you wouldn’t be able to combine without this module. Then the second module is Baidu Map. In China, the Baidu Map is considered more accurate than the Google Maps and more complete than the Ali Maps. The Baidu Map module enables geographic and location information to be displayed via the Baidu Map API. It helps to attain geographic coordinates from textual addresses in China (Geocode) and display any type of geographic information via Baidu Maps. As Baidu Map presently provides support only for Mainland China, so the capacities of this module would be restricted to China. But it is still able to cover a vast market of more than 500 million internauts, bringing an availability of great applications starting from Logistics, to Tourism/Hospitality, going through E-Commerce or Real Estates.

There are some well-designed themes and templates which Drupal offers. Let us look into some of the Drupal free themes for travel websites. So, the first theme is Travel Zymphonies Theme. The travel agency or tour operating website are benefited by the Travel Zymphonies theme as it helps to focus on offering various adventure tour packages. This theme is compatible with Drupal 8 and it provides multiple layouts that help in creating multiple pages based on your contents. Also, it is responsive and can be used completely for free. Then next we have Guesthouse Lite. The Guesthouse Lite can be considered as a free mobile-first, Bootstrap 4 based theme for Drupal 8 which is based on the Drupal’s premium, Premium Guesthouse theme distribution that comes along with 200+ theme settings and enables you to build sites for small hotels, guesthouses and businesses in the tourism sector.

Finally, taking you through one of the Drupal distributions for travel i.e. Travel profile. Travel profile is a very modern-looking profile which is a great option for the travel agencies or hotels’ landing pages. The travel theme that is used in this profile is very responsive and looks great on any device.

Support and maintenance, hiring of developers, and partnering with digital agencies

There are numerous Drupal agencies you can opt for. According to your requirements, they tend to provide you with the quality services that will meet your expectations. Below are some of the top 4 Drupal agencies in the global Drupal marketplace.

Illustration diagram describing the top 4 Drupal agencies in the global Drupal marketplaceSource: Drupal.org

                                   
Supporting emerging technologies

Drupal proactively, uses the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence in the   form of chatbots, virtual reality, IoT and Blockchain, cognitive search and digital voice assistants like Alexa on Drupal sites to provide a better experience for it’s users. 

Inspiring stories

In this section, I will take you through some of the case studies that will help you in understanding why you should pick Drupal when it comes to building your dream website. 

Top Deck Travel

Top Deck Travel can’t only be considered as a tour operator but rather they can be addressed as travel enthusiasts who plan exciting trips to exotic destinations for people between the age of 18 to 39. They provide 330 different tours around 65 countries to the travellers and help them make beautiful travel experiences and memories. They wanted Drupal to create their new website that would increase the online presence, help in direct to consumer sales, reduce the reliability of third-party travel agents, availability of Single Sign On process over historical sites, applications, form a digital platform which could be utilized for sister brands, Back Roads Touring, Blue Roads Touring and align their applications architecture with the parent Group i.e. Flightcentre. Drupal successfully enhanced their site performance, reduced page load speed, increased consumer conversion rate, launched Back Roads and Blue Roads and generated incremental sales. 

Content Migration at Scale for Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet is a well known name in the travel industry. They facilitate travellers with extensive resources that include guide books, reliable web content, popular mobile applications and a flourishing online community. Lonely Planet wanted to upgrade their legacy website that was created over a decade and had been custom made on Ruby on Rails. They faced various challenges with caching and site scalability. It was a time-consuming and complex project since the volume of content had been accumulated over a decade. They wanted to streamline and migrate to Drupal 8. They had to take their next step, which was to migrate their custom platform onto Drupal. Some of the reasons why they wanted to migrate to Drupal were because of Drupal’s versatile migration API which helped them to conveniently migrate data from its source to the Drupal system. And, Drupal’s flexibility with numerous types of content modeling approaches makes it the best choice for their project. Eventually, part of the new system was successfully launched. They successfully migrated their WordPress-based portal to Drupal.

Final thoughts

From this article, it is clear that over the past two decades, the travel and tourism industry has experienced a fundamental transformation. Driven by new digital technologies, this industry is able to revolutionize the entire work culture and look forward to efficiently providing personalized customer services. This journey is made a lot easier by Drupal as it is the right technology helping the travel industry to not only retain customers but also win over new travelers by providing the necessary technical assistance with its incredible features and functionality.

Aug 10 2021
Aug 10

Every nonprofit organization is established with some definite goals and objectives that it opts to achieve. But are the nonprofits able to achieve their set up goals without facing any challenges? Not really. In this highly competitive world, these organizations find themselves struggling in finding ways to turn their vision into reality. So, in a situation like this, digital innovation can be the savior for the nonprofits. Updating to the latest technology is the smartest step a nonprofit can take to justify its organization’s mission, also successfully accomplishing the expected results and outcomes. Therefore, in this article we will discover how Drupal can pave the way to greater success in a nonprofit organization. 

The emerging need for nonprofit digital transformation 

Illustration diagram describing the ways in which nonprofits organizations are benefited by digital transformation


There are various angles to a digital transformation that it can be difficult for nonprofits that have been using similar IT systems for years. It is totally comprehensible to not know exactly where to start your digital transformation journey, or how each new technology will be beneficial to your organization. Therefore, these are the areas where your organization can be improved by adopting digital transformation. 

Building a digital first donor funding strategy

Digital transformation helps in availing innovative user experiences that enable in meeting new digital expectations of the nonprofit organizations. Modern technology has entirely transformed the digital expectations for employees, donors and other beneficiaries. Digital interaction is made easy by the help of smart devices, mobile apps, social media, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and ecommerce that are majorly beneficial for these organizations. Online portals can be built for beneficiaries to contact the nonprofits, providing full transparency that would encourage the donors to contribute, making an easy access to organization services leading to trust building. Therefore, all these experiences bring a positive impact on the various fundraising programs conducted by the nonprofits to improve the user engagement and satisfaction. 

Online strategies can be developed to enhance the donors’ participation and reach them on their preferred channels to let them witness a great experience with the nonprofit organizations. 

There is an example, where Accenture helped a national microfinance organization on donor analytics by facilitating data capacities and advanced insights. The nonprofit gained various benefits like immediate visibility into donor demographics, improved funding behavior, lifetime value and many more. 

Empowering employees by using digital tools 

The COVID 19 brought a major transformation in the field of digital technology. There was a complete shift in the overall operation methods of the nonprofit organizations due to this pandemic. They started embracing new operating models, using the right digital tools and encouraging new ways of working to maximize performance. Along with the employees who endeavour to perform their work in the new environment, the beneficiaries should also learn to communicate with the organization in the new operating model. Some organizations tried making the digital tools easier for the beneficiaries to use and witness a seamless experience. 

One significant thing the nonprofits can do is to provide the front-line-employees with the correct data and insights , as it will help in serving the stakeholders more efficiently, who overall support the movement of a nonprofit organization in various ways. 

Since the digital economy is changing, it is crucially important for nonprofits to ensure that the operations they are working on are efficient and effective enough to achieve their organizational goals and objectives. To know more, learn how the Covid-19 pandemic propelled businesses to reimagine their businesses and how pandemic-driven digital transformation looks like.

Developing strategic partnerships

In the middle of the pandemic, the nonprofits receiving support from the profit earning organizations have taken a positive shift towards growth and development. Since some nonprofits fall behind in their digital capabilities, several technology companies have stepped in to provide free services for a limited time to get through this current crisis. The nonprofits have gained benefits from these corporate partnerships in many ways, huge marketing exposure, increased funding, shared resources and the capability to increase more volunteers. 

Some nonprofits abstain from getting involved in such partnerships without realizing the positive impact which can be obtained from it. And one important thing to be aware of is the selection of the right partners to work with. Since changing digital providers might lead to various inefficiencies in the long-term. But by choosing the right partnerships, nonprofits can sustain their operations and succeed in attaining their work plan and targets.

Providing support with the emerging technologies

Adopting the emerging transformational technologies by the nonprofits proves to be one of the best decisions as it helps in meeting the growing digital expectations. Such technologies are listed below.

  • Augmented Reality
  • Virtual Reality
  • Blockchain 

Augmented reality 

Augmented reality provides a live view of something in the real world. It basically blends the real world and virtual reality to improve the viewer’s insight of his or her surroundings. By adopting this technology, the nonprofits can gain many benefits. Firstly, it transports your organization’s constituents to the center of your cause. This helps in establishing a personal relationship between the organization and potential donors and volunteers, also building the necessary trust. For better understanding, a NPO, charity:water provides an example. In the December 2015 annual black tie fundraising banquet, by using augmented reality, the guests of the events were provided augmented reality headsets that virtually transported them to a small village in Ethiopia. They were taken through a week in the life of a 13-year-old Ethiopian girl through this technology, where they saw her family’s struggle for clean water firsthand.  By watching such a heart-breaking story, the guests were so moved by the experience, that they ended up contributing a total amount of $2.4 million. This technology also provides viewers real-time information. 

Virtual reality

We will understand this technology by the help of an example. A nonprofit organization, Pencils and Promise aims at providing education to children by building schools in the rural communities of less developed countries like Nicaragua and Laos. It is difficult to convince donors and investors to contribute while the construction is still half-a-world away. If by any chance, they contribute, a part of the donations are automatically funnelled towards the travel costs. So, virtual reality can be a perfect solution for such a problem. By using this technology, a one minute-and-a-half film was shot and the organization could surprisingly, raise a sum total of $1.9 million.

Blockchain

Blockchain helps nonprofits in various ways. It provides full transparency regarding tracking the transfer of funds from the donor to the beneficiary, scrutinizing the usage of funds and the overall activities of the organization. It helps in trust building between the donor and the beneficiary by providing the clarity of the necessary tracks and services. It is found that some donors wish to remain unknown, they want to support the nonprofits without revealing their identity. The traditional funding method failed to provide that facility, while blockchain is able to maintain confidentiality by providing the digital wallets facility. The intermediaries like banks and payment services do not fit in the architecture of the blockchain technology, so it helps in reducing the administrative costs of the nonprofits and also helps in smooth transfer of funds to the beneficiaries. Also read, how blockchain is revolutionising the education sector and digital media sector. 

Providing safe and secured user experience

You will not use technology, you don’t trust. Isn’t that obvious? So, this rule will be applicable for everyone, from volunteers and donors, to employees and beneficiaries. Though nonprofits come across cybersecurity attacks, recent studies revealed that nonprofits fall behind in adopting the robust policies and practices required to suitably secure their IT environments. 

Here is an example: Between 2016, December and 2017 April, the UK’s privacy regulator publicly exposed and charged 11 large charities for failing to follow UK privacy rules with regard to usage of donor information.  

Discovering new ways of working to secure your nonprofit’s future 

It is understandable that nonprofits go through a lot of challenges in this highly competitive world, but they can take all these situations as an opportunity to be creative and grow tremendously. Some organizations surrender and fail to overcome these challenges and others courageously adopt innovative new business processes and technologies to succeed in their mission. This process of adoption can be termed as digital transformation. The nonprofits can have a better understanding of digital transformation by observing the transformation journey of the leading private sector companies. Some of the ways in which the nonprofits can thrive in the digital world is by building flexible and robust technology service platforms that can free themselves from maintaining high-priced infrastructure which requires important levels of man-power and expertise.  

How can nonprofits kickstart their digital transformation journey

Illustration diagram describing the steps that can be followed by the nonprofits to start the digital transformation


Now let us take a glimpse of how a digital transformation takes place. Here are 5 major steps you can follow to get started.

Step 1

Establishing a common frame of reference. The first step is to build a common language and also frame a reference which all your stakeholders can look upto. The NGO Reference Model can be adopted and it will help you in visualizing the major connection points between process, people and technology in your organization.

Step 2

Assessing your present approach to digital technology to recognise gaps and opportunities. It is advisable to assess your present approach to technology over the four necessary outcomes of nonprofit digital strategy as discussed above. You can get started by completing the Nonprofit Digital Strategy Assessment to recognize current gaps in your approach to digital technology, also prioritizing opportunities for development, and get insights about exactly what the next level of transformation will look like. 

Step 3

Building consensus by explaining how digital strategy will transform your impact. The successful digital transformation strategies need strong support from the senior leadership, since the digital transformation impacts every single role within the organization, therefore, everybody has a role to play. A transformational digital strategy can be formed by building consensus and obtaining support from program teams, middle management and senior leadership to enhance the culture of innovation at the workplace. The leaders will have to take responsibility in actively engaging the volunteers, employees, donors and the beneficiaries to contribute their part in the process of this transformation. 

Step 4

Identifying ways to increase your security in the cloud. The nonprofits can improve their security by adopting the right cloud platform without any huge upfront investment. It is important for both cybersecurity and data-protection compliance. In fact, a major necessity of most comprehensive data-protection laws that includes the EU Data Protection Directive and the GDPR, is that companies handling personal data should take organizational and technical steps to maintain the security of any personal data they gather or process. To know more, read about GDPR and CCPA


Step 5

Start your digital transformation. After building the agreement that digital transformation is required, you can follow the respective process of Dream, Design, Deliver to form a transformative strategy. 

Dream. You can run a design thinking workshop to visualize the innovative scenario with your team.

Design. You need to align technology, process, and organizational change management plans into a time-phased common roadmap to deliver emphasized scenarios and impact.

Deliver. You need to execute process reengineering, technology solutions and organizational readiness, making sure that closed-loop measuring of learnings and impacts can be further utilized in the next stage of transformation. 

Drupal: The first choice for non-profit organizations

Illustration showing multiple squares describing the features of Drupal for nonprofits


Nonprofits need a platform that can simplify the donation procedure, build a secure site, share the organization’s mission through blogs, and set up online communication among the site organizers and visitors. Therefore, Drupal is the perfect CMS for a nonprofit website as it implements all types of functionality without any concerns. It further provides a wide range of exclusive features that meets all the expected standards of a nonprofit site. So, the below Drupal features prove that Drupal for nonprofits is the best choice.  

Open source

The Drupal project is entirely open-source software. You can download it completely free of cost, then use, work or share it with someone else too. It is based on some principles like globalism, collaboration and innovation. It can be further distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). There are no licensing fees for Drupal.

The Drupal community always supports its users by answering their queries and concerns. That means, if you have a question, someone surely will have the answer, as it's a worldwide platform. The Drupal developers get access to the worldwide community experience. 

Learn more about open source here:


Content workflow

Drupal’s in-built tools help in content creation, workflow and publishing, also letting the content creators to work on it easily without any concerns. Editorial workflows can be managed efficiently by permission and authentication available in this platform. The provision of previews gives the visibility of how the content will be displayed on a device before approving and publishing the content. It allows you to create content with a WYSIWYG editor. The facility of quickly tracking all revisions and changes are available, if you require to maintain a history of content changes. All the stages of content, from creating, reviewing, and publishing can be viewed, to help you manage your roles and actions. Drupal has an exclusive feature where you can create a structured content i.e. describe content elements, tag content based on any attributes, form suitable taxonomy for content so that it can be observed, used, reused if required in a manner that can enhance customer satisfaction.

Drupal gives you an opportunity to create the relevant content architecture using the Admin Interface or even do it programmatically. It provides you with unique mode tools and views, customizable menus that give a comfortable user experience, and create pathways to content across various devices.

Read about how layout builder and paragraphs module enhance content workflow in Drupal.

Security

Drupal CMS is free from all kinds of web security vulnerabilities and threats as it is completely safe and secure. Robust security is kept as a priority by Drupal. Drupal has a team of security experts that take care of all the security concerns with their well built coding standards and strict code review process. It also has a vast professional service provider security as they don’t want to take this important aspect, ‘security’ for granted. 

According to the 2020 edition of the Acunetix, Web Application Vulnerability Report, Drupal was found to be the most secure CMS in the open source CMS market.

Illustration with a circle describing the minimal security issues of Drupal for nonprofitsSource: Acunetix

Scalability and performance

Drupal built-in performance features that, combined with a modern CDN provider, performs exceptionally well under the pressure of supercharged databases, advanced caching and load balancing. Drupal’s scalability allows your website to perform remarkably well even on the busiest days.  To know more, read about Drupal’s performance optimisation offerings and how it scales with your needs to govern high web traffic.


Multilingual

The automated language translation of Drupal helps in reaching different audiences with localized content. Drupal specializes in building complex multilingual web applications and customized sites in various languages. Core modules in Drupal enable complete translation of every part of a site, content types and their specific fields, menus, users, blocks, taxonomy, comments and contact forms. It allows in recognizing the preferred language as per the user’s IP address, URL, browser settings, session and more. Read more about Drupal’s multilingual capabilities here.

Accessibility

Drupal provides a special feature of building websites that are accessible by people with disabilities. It makes sure that all its features conform with the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines (W3C) guidelines: WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 2.0. Such a feature of accessibility is very important as it is able to accomplish one of the most desired objectives of serving all the citizens without any discrimination. 

Learn more about accessibility here:

Personalisation

Drupal provides its users with an exclusive, personalized profile for every visitor such as using geolocation, browser history, behavior taxonomies and device type. You can get a customized experience that will help in tracking and reporting with A/B and multivariate testing, enhancing ROI through target marketing and also segmenting visitors over devices with an aim on the important user identity for your business goals and objectives.  

Learn more about personalisation here:

SEO

Drupal provides exclusive SEO tools that can enhance your site’s visibility. Below are the tools and modules.

To know more, read this definitive guide to Drupal SEO in 2021.

Multisite

With Drupal you can manage numerous sites across your company, geographies, brands and campaigns on a single platform, enabling smooth, quick website creation and deployment. Read this complete guide on Drupal multisite to know more.

Marketing automation

Using tools and modules in recent versions, Drupal facilitates easy integration with the automation platforms that can assemble customer demographics, also converting potential leads within the appropriate time. Learn more about how marketing automation can be leveraged with Drupal here.

Mobile first approach and mobile app delivery

Drupal helps in building responsive websites and creating web applications which can provide excellent visitor experiences. It provides responsive design best practices and assures your users receive the ultimate content experience every time, on each device. You will find two ways of building mobile web applications which work with Drupal - integrated with Drupal at the theme layer, or a standalone mobile web app that communicates with Drupal using web services. Although both the approaches will work for building mobile web applications, it will be much easier to begin with integrating the mobile web app into Drupal as a theme. To know more, read about mobile-first design approach and mobile apps like that of Flutter-powered delivered by Drupal.

Integrated Digital Tools and Applications

Drupal easily integrates with a broad ecosystem of digital marketing technology and other business applications that can help you choose the right set of tools today and also according to your comfort, flex with new tools tomorrow. 

Strong Stack Foundation

The latest LAMP technology stack like Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP are the ones upon which Drupal lives since they meet the requirements of flexible, fast-moving agile organizations and brands that help in creating the next generation digital platforms. 

Decoupled Architecture

One of the features Drupal provides is the content flexibility that allows an easy flow of content over websites, native apps, connected devices which can be displayed on third party sites and social networks. As, many CMSes seek to manage content in a back-end repository and move it to “front-end” templates that can provide an experience (mostly static). There is a facility to decouple the back and front ends, wherever it's necessary. Hence, Drupal content remains as reusable chunks, that is free from presentation, also ready for smooth delivery to websites and applications. Content becomes future proof as well. Due to Drupal’s presentation i.e. RESTful API and neutral content, the front end developers can come out of the restrictions, helping them build interactive websites and applications, according to their convenience. Tools like  Angular, Node, Ember, Backbone, and others are available. You can obtain  third-party content(eg. syndicators and aggregators) and make it available to any website, app or channel under this platform. Drupal’s content can be easily consumed by other websites and applications with the help of Drupal’s content-as-a-service capability. Also Drupal’s front end developers can smoothly design content like for example, separating back-end content from front-end presentation according to their conveniences. 

Learn more about decoupled Drupal here:

Web Hosting

Drupal helps you to choose the best hosting vendor that suits your needs, you can change hosting vendors whenever you want, and also select to host the website internally. 

Migrations

The Drupal upgrades are referred to as easy and reliable. The upgradating of Drupal 8 to 9 was simple, as said by the makers. By following a four step guide, you can prepare your present site’s functionality, also maintaining proper security standards of Drupal 9 by utilizing the Upgrade Status. With the help of Upgrade Status and Drupal Module Upgrader , the developers are allowed to make the upgrade themselves. And it also further helps you to recognize whether your modules and themes are competent enough for Drupal 8/9 and convert your custom code accordingly.

Learn more about Drupal 9 upgrade here:

Extensibility

Drupal has various modules, themes and distributions to extend the functionalities.

Below are the examples of Drupal modules for non-profit:

Orcid

According to ORCHID.org, ORCID is an open, non-profit, community-driven effort to create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers.

The Orchid module helps a user to create an account and login with ORCID OAuth2.

Campaign Kit

It is a flexible donation system that helps you to engage your supporters in the fund-raising activities. The Campaign Kit module is compatible with Drupal 9. It allows:

  • To create standalone campaigns (donate toward a specific goal)
  • Let your supporters create peer-to-peer Campaigns; that will allow the end user to create a child campaign (with a URL different from the parent campaign) and the amount raised rolls up to the parent campaign.
  • To create excitement with team competitions.
  • The site can display a donor wall.
  • Campaign queuing.
  • Availability of payment processors using the plug-in architecture.

There are many exclusive themes too that Drupal presents, like. 

YG Charity | Bootstrap based Drupal 9 theme for NGO

The YG Charity is the most suitable drupal theme for NGO, charity and non-profit organizations. The features of this theme include:

  • Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 core
  • Bootstrap v3.3.5
  • Causes and events sections
  • Team
  • Testimonials

Charity Zymphones Theme

The Charity Zymphones theme is specifically designed for charity, nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO), donation and fund-raising campaigns with exclusive features. You will find all the required features for a charity site with a complete responsive mobile-first layout. This theme perfectly fits in many displays and resolutions desktop screens, tablets, iPads, iPhones and small mobile devices. It is also compatible with Drupal 9.

There are various distribution options that Drupal has. Let’s now take a look at the Drupal distribution for nonprofits. 

Open Social

You can create digital spaces which allow your members to share with Open Social's out-of-the-box solution for your online community. International organizations around the world like The United Nations, Greenpeace, the European Commission, FIFA and many more use this distribution. With the help of this community engagement platform, the NGOs, governments and many organizations can connect to their members, volunteers and customers. 

Campaignion Starterkit

The Campaignion Starterkit is a Drupal Distribution for non-profits. It basically specializes in eCampaigning, online fundraising and also applies digital marketing best practices. It helps in:

  • Setting up online actions such as petitions, email protests or other landing pages with forms to capture leads.
  • Creating donation pages and allowing visitors to pay through paymill, stripe and direct debit.
  • Managing supporters in a CRM system (based on Redhen CRM, heavily customized)
  • Managing subscribers of your email list with third-party email marketing tools integrated.

To get more information, you can visit the Campaignion website and for documentation, you can  start with Campaignion core module

Drupal Commons

Drupal Commons is a "community collaboration website in a box" built on Drupal. The following are the help which you receive from this distribution.

  • You can answer the question, “How do you get started?”
  • By downloading a nightly snapshot, you can take a test of the development version of Commons.
  • You can provide e feedback on documentation, and also make requests for additional documentation.
  • Finally, it helps to work on an issue in another project with the commonslove tag.

Open Outreach

Open Outreach is an inexpensive and a quick way for nonprofits and community organizations to operate using Drupal with the web tools which they require for effective public engagement. It basically comprises the latest version of Drupal core and other modules and configures in advance the features frequently used by organizations such as events calendars, image and video handling, social media integration, and contact management. With this distribution, you can save a lot of time and money while building your non-profit websites.

Support and maintenance, hiring of developers, and partnering with digital agencies

There are various Drupal agencies you can go for. They try to provide quality services according to your requirements and choices. Here are the top 4 Drupal agencies in the global Drupal marketplace.

Illustration diagram describing the top 4 Drupal agencies for nonprofits in the global Drupal marketplaceSource: Drupal.org


Supporting emerging technologies

To deliver a better user experience, Drupal actively uses the latest technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT and cognitive search and digital voice assistants like Alexa on Drupal sites. More on futuristic websites powered by Drupal here.

Hence, with the above features, Drupal nonprofit websites can be built according to your project's expectations and standards.

Success stories

Taking you through some case studies that proves Drupal as the best option to opt for in order to build a secure and user-friendly website.

The National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI)

A screenshot of the National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI) website's homepage


The National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI) is a part of the project, Bookshare by Benetech. The council provides learning opportunities to those who struggle with visual impairment across the globe. It aims at providing accessibility for nearly 1.3 billion people worldwide. NCBI is actively working in their field but since they don’t have a website of their own, they are not able to let their constituents get access to their content in a digital format. Therefore, they wanted to share their materials easily in an online format to make people understand their vision and goals, and to make the site AAA compliant. After the large Bookshare platform was made available, NCBI could utilize the platform to partner with publishers in Ireland and share their materials. Availing strategy, design, front and back-end development of the platform in Drupal, Bookshare could be tailored to NCBI’s requirements and audiences to get access to reading. Now, by working with Kanopi, NCBI could provide excellent features like synchronized text and audio, searchable text and customizable font size and contrast to help visually impaired people with learning and literacy. NCBI finally has a AAA compliant site, with 800,000+ titles available to users. This was a big achievement for the team as they could manage to give such great accessibility to people around the globe with learning and education.

Drupal 8 Redesign for Non-profit, Synergos

A screenshot of the Synergos website's homepage


Synergos, a global nonprofit, has been committed to systemic change solutions to fight against poverty for over 25 years. The Synergos team was ready to rebuild their website for better engagement with the donors and supporters. The project aimed at bringing optimum exposure and audience engagement to Synergos.org, enabling users to smoothly find and engage with content, creating simple ways for users to learn about Synergos’ mission, activities, increasing support in the form of donations and email subscriptions, services and the easy ways of getting involved with them. Drupal brought a huge transformation by providing a fresh approach to digital strategy, a new design, allowing to engage with new partners, making funding secure, strengthening services. Drupal provided Synergos some exceptional results like the bounce rate improved by 19%, pages/sessions increased by 27%, session duration increased by 63%, and finally page load time was enhanced by 52% on tablet devices and mobile. Synergos overall got a very customized platform that helped in enhancing the user engagement and increasing their audience as well. 

Website Redesign in Drupal 8 Helps a Rockstar Nonprofit Get an Edge

A screenshot of the Youth on Record website's homepage


Youth on Record empowers high school students, the ones  who are underprivileged to prosper in their lives through the help of musical programs. It actively partners with local and national musicians, schools and treatment centers to provide them credit classes that are inspirational, engaging and culturally suitable for students. There was a problem with their website since it was unable to display the tangible impact of providing children access to get a learning experience from real artists and couldn’t support fundraising and event awareness endeavours. A new website information architecture, with an improved user experience and a responsive design was built on Drupal 8. There was a lot of content that Youth on Record had but it wasn’t well organized. So, along with choosing the right content, media too had to be well looked after or else it could lead to confusion. Here, Drupal 8 handled the situation by allowing an easy integration of external libraries. Therefore, it was pretty easy to include a library to handle execution of the Twitter API, that saved long working hours and cost, and also allowed Youth on Record’s content to be relevant. So, all the desired project’s outcomes were achieved such as the new Youth on Record website now acts both as a media center and resource for every aspect of the company. It enhanced fundraising, partnerships, more engagement of partner artists and followers. Drupal 8 provided a complete, future-proofed site that was launched on time within the planned budget and could also reach the client’s expectations. 

A Reimagined Rainforest Alliance on Drupal 8

A screenshot of the Rainforest Alliance website's homepage


Reimagined Rainforest has developed a repository of well structured content to support their vision and mission. The content is majorly displayed in long form text, there is also a broad variety of metadata and assets related with every piece of content. One of the major goals of the new site was the availability of the provision to discover new content on the website through automatic selection of similar content navigated by the metadata of the content the user was observing. Also, RA had a future plan for advanced authorization and publishing workflows to allow stakeholders, who aren’t from the web team to play a part in the content lifecycle. So, Drupal 8 was chosen for this project. Firstly, the focus on structured data suits Rainforest Alliance’s requirement for movable and searchable content. Secondly, due to the integrations with Apache Solr permitted for a nuanced content relation engine. Also Solr was utilized to power the several search interfaces. Thirdly, Drupal possesses strong workflow tools for managing content. Although the tools weren’t ready for Drupal 8, when they built it, the Drupal team knew that the tools would be easy to integrate, once they are completely ready. Therefore, it was proved that Drupal was the best choice for the project’s immediate need, and Drupal 8 was successful in meeting the organization’s long-term goals and aspirations. 

Conclusion

With the help of digital transformation, nonprofit organizations are able to enhance their impact on the society, reach their target audience and be prepared for any challenges that they might come across in the path of meeting their clear goals and objectives. In this digital transformation for nonprofits, Drupal plays a major role in turning their mission into reality, providing them the opportunity to work confidently in the field of technology and successfully help in achieving their work aspirations.

Aug 04 2021
Aug 04

Have you ever heard that a single business has a lot of different branches or mini-businesses? It’s pretty common in the day and age we live in. The business world has grown immensely and so have its needs. And a single website isn’t enough to fulfil those needs.

So, what do businesses do? They build multiple websites, which should have been a great solution, but is really more of a stressful trigger waiting to go off. This is because managing those multiple websites is a pain, for lack of a better word. It results in slower building process, increased overheads, lack of control and scarce visibility, so yeah, a pain describes it pretty well.

What is the solution then?

A multisite structure that allows you to create multiple websites using a commonality. It would require less work to build, yet provide the much needed autonomy for the individual sites on the setup. And that is what we are going to be discussing today, but in regards to Drupal.

Drupal, being a popular CMS, has a lot to offer, when web development is considered. The sites developed using Drupal are versatile, scalable and provide amazingly powerful digital experiences. And one such feature that contributes to that power is the Drupal multisite setup. So, for whoever asked, ‘Does Drupal support multisite?’, the answer is yes and it does so exceptionally well. Let’s find out how. 

Drupal Multisite: What is the setup about?

Have you ever baked a cake? The core ingredients being flour, eggs and sugar are all the same for every cake. It's just the flavour and the toppings that are different. Drupal multisite can be understood with the same analogy.

As the name suggests, you can have multiple websites, tens and hundreds of them, working for you with ease using the multisite feature. You can have Drupal multisite with different domains as many as you want.

What is going to be the same for every website in this setup? 

The codebase would remain constant throughout. You can have hundreds of sites without having to rewrite it. The Drupal core and the available modules and themes are also shared by the multiple websites. These form the flour, eggs and sugar batter in the Drupal cake.

And what is going to be different in the multiple sites?

Everything other than the codebase is different. You would have independently running websites that would serve the needs of its target demographic.

The sites would have their own database;
The sites would have their own configuration, in terms of enabled modules and themes, content and more; 
The sites would have their own files, inclusive of images, uploads, user profiles and more; 
And the sites would even have their own base domain or URL. 

So, in essence Drupal multisite would provide you the opportunity to create multiple websites using the same codebase, however, all the sites would be different from one another, serving different audiences. 

How is that possible?

Because of server requests. Let me clarify it a bit. All of the multi sites created using this setup are stored in separate folders. Drupal multi folder structure can be separated from multisite repositories, making deployments easy for site maintainers and front-end developers alike. On top of this, each of these folders would have its own personal php file with connectivity to its own personal database.

Now, add to this equation, Drupal’s fine ability to map a request based on the domain it came from, this ability is further enhanced by loading the right database and configuration based on the said domain. The result is the website that the requester wanted being served on a platter. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

What do you gain out of it?

After understanding the basic concept and working of Drupal multisite module, the next thing that pops up in our minds is its benefits. Why should you take it up? What’s to gain out of it? And that is where I come to tell you all about the amazingness that is Drupal multisite.

Benefit from faster launches 

The best part of Drupal’s multisite feature is its ability to create newer websites in a matter of minutes and without much support from IT and developers. 

The built-in installation profiles are the reason for the faster launches. It essentially holds the functionality and configuration into installable packages, which can be launched as many times as you want them to. And you would have a new website that’s fully ready for the content entries. 

Benefit from saying no to compromises 

The second multisite benefit comes in the footsteps of the first. Because multisite helps in creating faster launches, it allows you to not compromise when deadlines are looming.

For every project, there is a deadline that needs to be met and as this deadline starts to come closer, potentially lucrative features start to move farther and out the door. Developers start making compromises and technical debt starts to build up.
 
Now, you could let a feature or two go out the window in a single build, however, when there are close to a hundred websites in development, that thought won’t even cross your mind. It is suffice to say that multisite architecture boasts a higher quality standard and minimal technical debt. The primary reason for that is time, creating multiple systems at once gives you ample time to think about potential and the time to make them part of the project in reality.

You create long term solutions with a multisite setup that come with a higher refactoring potential from the management because there are multiple sites involved. 

Benefit from lower maintenance and reduced costs 

Another advantage of a single code for multiple websites is that you have to spend less time on maintaining it as compared to multiple codebases for multiple websites. Wouldn’t you agree? 

If you encounter a bug on any one of these sites, you would fix it for all of them. This considerably reduces the time spent on maintenance and consequently the costs that accompany it. With Drupal multisite, you can keep track of updating and reviewing at one place, thereby, keeping a convenient grip on maintenance.

Benefit from saving your efforts 

I saved the best for last; with Drupal multisite, you actually save yourself a lot of time and effort because you can reuse your code or components of it. You would only have to build a feature once and thereon, you’d only have re-use, no wasted effort for building the same thing over again.

A reusable code with a shared library entails; 

Reusable integrations; 
Reusable functionality; 
Reusable UI components; 
Reusable workflows; 

And you can also reuse a theme with Drupal’s theme inheritance mechanism, allowing you to create a base theme for other themes to inherit the basics from. 

All of this saves a ton of effort in the development process. You should know that you can also try to reuse components for sites not on the same platform, it would be extremely difficult, but possible.

What options does Drupal multisite offer?

While setting up for Drupal 9 multisite, there are a few choices available. The essence in all of these choices is the same, which is a strong commonality through a single codebase. Moreover, you will get all the benefits we just talked about in the previous section in all of them.

So, let’s understand the kind of range Drupal multisite comes with.

Conventional approach: Classic Drupal multisite architecture

The conventional approach essentially sums up the meaning of Drupal multisite, as we talked about while understanding the concept. There would be multiple sites in this option, with multiple configurations and multiple databases, however, there would only be one codebase shared amongst all. The diagram below describes the architecture pretty aptly.

The image explains Drupal Multisite architecture.


I would be wrong, if I said that it's only the codebase that is shared. Technically, out-of-the-box that is the case. However, if you want your multisites to share more than that, you have an option. The Features module, a unique trait of the conventional architecture in Drupal, can help you in that. It allows sites to have shared features by importing the configuration from it. Config Split further eases the workload by segregating which configuration needs to be shared and which needs to be quashed.

Contrastingly, I have mentioned that you can create independent and somewhat unique websites using Drupal multisite, if that is what you wish for. This is possible because it allows you to customise because of isolated configurations. As such you can create your own custom themes and modules for each of your websites.

Multi-domain architecture

The multi-domain architecture isn’t all that different from the multisite. There is a single codebase, however, along with that there is also a single and shared database, which isn’t the case in multisite. Here is a diagram for better understanding.

The image explains the multi-domain architecture.


Through the multi-domain architecture, you’ll be maintaining a single Drupal installation, which is quite easy; on top of this, you will also be able to maintain the configuration and functionality with ease. 

The Domain Access modules are at the heart of this architecture, as it makes it possible to serve multiple sites. It also allows you to categorise your content as shared and unique, you can decide a specific piece of content for one particular domain, then you can also share it across all sites, if that is what you want.

With more sharing in this architectural design of Drupal in terms of features, functionality, content and even users, updating a single site is a walk in the park. 

In terms of the drawbacks, the one that outshines the rest is that you can’t have any exceptions. In multisite, you could add additional functionality to individual websites, but you can’t do it here. Well, you can, if you wanted to, but you see, the intention behind multi-domain architecture is simplicity. And adding exceptions to each site would contradict that big time. Even while using contrib modules you would have to be extra careful in checking their compatibility with Domain Access.

Other notable architectures

There are three other multiple site architectures in Drupal, let’s shed some light on these as well.

Based on Drupal distribution

Have you ever bought a cake mix? It's a ready-made mixture of everything that goes into the cake and all you have to do is make it into a batter and put it in the oven and you’ll have your very own baked cake. Easy, isn’t it? This is basically what a Drupal distribution is. 

You get a mix of everything you would need to start your web projects, from the required modules and libraries to custom themes and modules and from the configuration to possibly the default content. It’s a website starter pack. There are popular Drupal distributions to choose from, like Commerce Kickstart and Lightning, but you can also make your own custom distributions. Take a look at this complete list of major Drupal distributions that you must try out.

The way these are different from multisite and multi-domain is through the codebase, each site would have its own and each site would also have its own hosting account.

The major drawback here is that it requires extra work. It’s kind of ironic for a cake mix, I know. You would have to maintain the distribution codebase as well as each of the sites. Security updates and bug fixes need all the more attention, if your distribution is published on Drupal.org.

Based on data silos

A multisite architecture on data silos is similar to Drupal distributions, in the sense that the codebase is different for each site, providing greater autonomy and better security. For businesses with multiple branches and departments that seek decentralization, yet a kind of uniformity, this is a great choice. 

Based on multilingual needs

This one has a similarity to the multi-domain architecture, as there is a shared codebase and database. It allows sites to capitalise on language-based regional targeting. With less development efforts and less building costs, each site would have its own language and its own regional audience. Learn more about why Drupal is great for multilingual sites here.

When can you optimise the setup the most?

Now comes the part of knowing exactly when to optimise Drupal’s multisite architecture. There are particular use cases and considerations that make the setup an ideal choice, let’s understand them.

Do you have multiple sites?

As the name suggests, for Drupal multisite to work its charm, you have to have multiple sites as in two or more. The prime reason for this setup’s mere existence is to help you in saving time and effort in the management of multiple Drupal sites by making them run on the same Drupal core.

Think about it, if you have two or more sites not running on this setup, you’d be responsible for each code individually and it would differ drastically for each site. This difference can become a mammoth task for managing, so doesn’t choosing multisite and eliminating this worry sound like the better choice?

Are they similar to each other?

Now, you could have multiple websites, but they have to have a degree of similarity in order for the multisite setup to work. Dramatically different sites in terms of features and aesthetics are not ideal for this architecture. That’s not to say that each site has to be a clone of the next. No, every site would obviously have its own content, moreover, it could also have different functionality, but that difference cannot be dramatic, just a feature here and there.

Take a university for instance, it could need multiple sites for its varying departments. Now in this case, the university could opt for the multisite feature because despite different websites, it would most definitely maintain a sense of uniformity in them. 

In essence, Drupal multisite creates replica sites with different themes for each site, if that aligns with your requirements, you should definitely opt for it.

Do you have the technical infrastructure?

Drupal multisite is meant to make your job easy, but it can only do so if you have the right technological infrastructure and expertise to handle that. 

  • The right hosting environment to manage multiple domains and deployment mechanisms. Your hosting provider should be proficient in knowing the exact requirements of your setup.
  • The right DevOps processes that are compatible with your multisite setup. When it's said that multisite setup makes you work less, automated deployment is one reason for that, so, your DevOps need to be efficient at that. 
  • Finally, the right testing environment because you deploy multiple sites at once, the chances of errors are on the higher side. A break in functionality can become colossal and checking for it manually is hard work. So, an automated testing environment that is equipped with tools to ensure higher quality standards is crucial.

Can going multisite pose challenges?

There is always a darker side of things, and Drupal multisite is no exception to that. There are certain drawbacks that accompany the setup that can leave a sour taste in our mouth. For many, these challenges have become the reason for not opting for the multisite architecture. 

The challenge of failure 

The frontrunner in the list of multisite challenges has to be its chances of failure, which to be honest are fairly high. There are two reasons for this.

One is the fact that there is a single codebase for all the sites. This means if there is a problem with one, there is a problem with all of them. Take traffic spikes for instance, they might be great for one website, but for multisites, that one site can pose significant risks to the others.

Second is the failure due to human error, which cannot be foreseen or avoided. There is plenty of risk associated with updating a single site, imagine the level of risk when there are tens of sites. A single syntax error can become the reason for the demise of your multisite setup quite quickly.

The challenge of individuality and innovation 

Yes, we do say that the multisite feature has room for individuality for each site. And then we also say that each site has to be the same or at least similar to a great extent in order for the architecture to work. Do you see where I am going with this challenge? 

The innovative flair often seen in development is somewhat lost in the multisite setup. Why? Simply because there is a standard to be adhered to. And when you deviate from that standard, you set yourself on the path of losing all the benefits of this architecture.

Reusing components, without extra efforts, is one of the fortes of the multisite setup, and adding innovation into this mix would make it tedious and exhausting. That is why it is advisable to avoid the multisite, if your sites differ from each other in terms of features and functionality or even if you would want them to differ in the near future.

The challenge of technical insufficiencies 

I mentioned in the previous section that optimising Drupal multisite is going to serve you best, if you have the technical infrastructure for it. And this can become somewhat of a challenge, I’ll tell you why.

Compare building one site or multiple sites separately to building and maintaining a multisite installation. Now tell me, which do you think would require more technical expertise? The latter, I’m sure. The reason is the complexity of the comprehensive web of multiple sites, the amount of settings alone could give a newbie developer a headache. 

So, along with the technical infrastructure, including a suitable host, DevOps and testing system, the need for a skilled multi-site development team can become quite a challenge.

The challenge of losing open source 

Finally, the last challenge relates to the loss of Drupal functionality. With a multisite architecture, you become an SaaS provider and consequently part with a number of open source solutions. You become responsible for every feature that needs improvement or innovation, unlike the usual way of open source software, wherein the community plays a part in innovation.

Learn more about open source here:

Conclusion

I would say that the challenges that the multisite architecture comes with do make you rethink choosing this path. However, when you consider the benefits along with its use cases, there isn’t a more perfect solution. 

A university site would not need to add extra innovative features to one of its department’s sites and therefore, the multisite is best suited for it and for other enterprises that have similar needs. Provided that you check all the right boxes in terms of multisite’s optimisation, you’ll not regret choosing it.
 

Aug 03 2021
Aug 03

In today’s modern times, the best way to connect with each other is through technology. Talking about connection, the very first thing which comes to our mind is connecting to our family and friends. The necessity of technology can be well understood if you stay away from family or friends and want to connect them instantly. So, by talking about the basic ideology of technology, what I wanted to portray is the effect of digital transformation in our lives. Now when it comes to communicating with the government, what is the most convenient way to do so? Yes, you got it right. It’s through technology again. As we know that the government’s main objective is to meet the needs of its citizens. Therefore, the best way to reach out to the citizens and provide them the necessary help is through digital services. In this article, I will tell you about the reasons why Drupal is the first choice of government when it comes to providing world class digital services. 

Significance of digital transformation for a government

Illustration with a circle and various cylindrical shaped objects describing the importance of digital transformation in government


When we talk about digital transformation, it's not only about new technologies but it comprises a vast subject matter like mindset, culture, work process and organizational structure. These are the areas which need to be given emphasis along with the digital technology adaptation. 

This section will provide you with information about what exact digital technologies the government adopts to deliver services more efficiently and effectively to its citizens. You will also get an overview of how digital transformation has brought a positive impact in the overall digital services leading to better outcomes for its people. 

Facilitating good customer experience

Today every citizen looks for public services to be customized and approachable as the services like that of the private sector. So, the government has to plan for some ways to deal with this expectation of the people. There is a need to create a customer centric mindset where they look for improving service quality, strengthen the level of public trust in the government and promote transparent interaction leading to better customer experience. 

Social media and mobile services like applications and SMS that are replacing the traditional channels, enable users to get access to the government services they require in the most suitable way. Such platforms can be a good medium of communication between people and the government, where everyone can report their concerns and also provide the necessary feedback to the government. 

When it comes to providing quality digital service, we can’t afford to forget about artificial intelligence (AI) that provides excellent services to its customers using chatbots within the government websites to complete necessary transactions. It helps in improving policy development, enhancing administrative efficiency, examining complex datasets and delivering new and improved services to its users. 

One more benefit which the government derives from technology is the facility of detecting geographical location that helps the users to choose their government services according to their preferred location. With this special feature in the government websites, citizens can save a lot of time and get access to the nearby government services without any concern. 

Enhancing the return on public investment

Observing an uncertain growth and rising demand in the environment, it is important for the government to find sustainable solutions to finance public services and infrastructure. This is when the government needs to adopt digital technologies which can help in exploring new models for providing services and improving the management of resources in a smart and efficient way. Predictive analytics and text mining are some of the smart managing resources procedures that help in predicting problems and facilitating preventive action like for example recognising taxpayers at the risk of non-payment.   

Maintaining citizen security

Everything comes with both pros and cons. Technology can be both a hindrance and a solution too. What I meant by this is to take your attention towards the cyber security issues. There are a lot of cyber attacks taking place all over the world. So, it is the government’s responsibility to safeguard the citizens from such threats, helping them live fearlessly without any doubt related to digital security. There are information security management systems that are introduced by the government to safeguard all the important data. Cloud computing is also a good process of increasing the computing capacity and facilitating safe payment platforms for citizen transactions. 

Improving future workforce

A country’s workforce plays an important role in the economic growth and development. As a result the government should focus on building capacities and skills in their employees to achieve better outcomes. A responsive environment is beneficial for attracting enthusiastic workers who can actively take up lead roles, contributing to the evolution of the society. The employees can be encouraged to concentrate on stimulating and value adding tasks. This is made possible by deploying intelligent automation tools to reduce the manual and repetitive work that can complement human workers. Therefore, it helps in enhancing productivity and satisfaction, further helping in improving the citizens' experience with government services. 

Upgrading infrastructure

Government has observed an increasing need of building and upgrading infrastructure, especially in the urban areas due to huge population growth. In situations like this, a new infrastructure can be beneficial to support the growing population and increased economic activity. A smart infrastructure can be built by adopting digital technology that can provide digital literacy among citizens. Some of the examples are software, smart devices and sensors that can enable secure access to government services. 

Provides better communication in emergency situations

The government websites can be a great help at the time of emergency since it is the first line of defence in such hard times that can provide the necessary support to the citizens. By building such functional websites with easy navigation, government officials can connect to the people in need and make sure that everyone is well informed about the important updates and announcements.   

Reports and surveys tell the same story

The fact that the technology revolution is offering new opportunities to the government is also agreed by some of the well known company’s reports and surveys. Let us take a look at their opinion.

Microsoft

Microsoft, in a study, shares four key focus areas that act as the main drivers for a digital transformation roadmap. With these pillars, Microsoft is trying to help the government in accomplishing the much needed digital transformation that can provide the best services to its citizens. 

Illustration with a circle and four squares describing the four key areas to focus on to achieve digital transformation in government


Citizen engagement

Government is able to better engage with the citizens through connected mobile services which helps in understanding citizens' needs and necessities leading to good customer satisfaction. This helps the government in enacting mobile citizen services which leads to better communication with the citizens on a very secured and reliable platform.

The Microsoft cloud platform helps in enhancing productivity, reducing management costs and protecting government data from any cyber attacks. 

Government workers empowerment

The government workers are facilitated with the necessary digital technologies, for example, Microsoft cloud platform that helps in proper communication with the employees and work in a much efficient way. The employee tasks get easier like gaining access to real-time case information, file reports and developing effective strategies together as a team maintaining the required security and compliance.

Government operations optimization

The cloud services and solutions help in optimizing the government operations, promoting the cost and operating efficiencies. Microsoft aims at delivering an integrated, flexible and a cloud and productivity solution for government which is trustworthy, also that helps in addressing all the main transformation challenges faced by the agencies in providing quality services to citizens.   

Service transformation

With the help of digital transformation, an agency gains access to huge quantities of data from processes and also the Internet of Things to provide better analysis, insights and better decision making that can enhance operations and provide new service opportunities. Now the data can grow in value since the government takes proper advantage of self-service data analysis tools, enabling everyone to work virtually with any type of data in new and convenient ways. 

Deloitte

Illustration with two regular pentagons describing the digital survey conducted by Deloitte to analyze the digital maturity and the COVID 19 impact of government's digital transformation


A Deloitte Digital Global Survey, The Journey to Government’s Digital Transformation explores the digital technology’s capacity to crucially transform the manner in which the public sector operates and delivers services to customers and present strategies for government leaders to measure the rate of their progress. It includes responses by more than 1,200 government officials from over 70 countries. This global survey also includes interviews with more130 government leaders and digital experts to get insight to the practices and policies influencing organizations’ “digital maturity.”

While surveying the 1,200 government officials from over 70 countries, they revealed that digital technologies are having a significant impact on the government. Among the respondents, three-fourths expressed that digital technologies are disrupting the public sector. It was also found that governments are at different stages in their journey towards digital transformation. A very small percentage can be considered as ‘maturing’ but the majority is still under the developing stage. 30 percent of the organizations surveyed confirmed that they are ahead of the public sector peers regarding digital capabilities; 70 percent said that they are behind the private sector. The two primary drivers of digital transformation i.e. cost-budget pressures and citizen demands are far away, accounting for 75 percent responses, although only 14 percent are moved by government directives.  

Deloitte surveyed 800 government officials over eight countries to analyze COVID-19’s impact on government’s digital transformation around the world. About three-fourths of respondents expressed that COVID-19 has accelerated their government’s digital transformation, although 80 percent said that there wasn’t much advancement in their organization’s digital transformation. 

The government agencies before the pandemic were majorly “doing digital” i.e. utilizing digital technologies to improve their capacities, yet majorly depending on legacy operating models. Governments were encouraged to enter into the next level of digital transformation due to COVID 19. Therefore, 77 percent of the government agencies confirmed that taking such initiatives due to this pandemic has brought a positive impact upon their organizations. Although they are “doing digital”, it's time to “be digital”. On reaching that stage of completely “being digital”, companies will be able to use some impactful technologies like cyber, AI and cloud to upgrade the human experience and entirely transform back-office operations and service delivery. Below are the stages of an organization’s digital transformation. 

Graphical representation with a curve depicting digital transformation of governmentSource: Deloitte

The ultimate goal of an organization’s digital transformation is to reach the stage of “being digital” as described in the above diagram. This stage consists of reinventing the strategies of meeting citizens demands and expectations leading to improved customer satisfaction by the government. By following the necessary measures, every government should opt to reach its final goal and utilize the optimum benefits of digital transformation. To know more on transformational strategies brought forth by Covid-19, read about digital readiness, how the pandemic enabled businesses to reimagine their operations, and the pandemic-driven digital transformation strategies.

CFI Group

Illustration with a circle and four squares describing the report on government websites conducted by CFI Group's 2020 Government websites report


According to CFI Group's 2020 Government Websites report, the government websites have played a major role in providing high quality, reliable information to the citizens during the hard times of COVID 19. According to the current data, the federal government websites are on the way to obtaining traffic volume of about 18 billion visits, representing nearly about a 80% increase over last year. The customer satisfaction index(CSI) of federal government websites is 73 as counted on a 0-100 scale for the fourth year in a row. The federal government websites are a reliable and cost-effective way to communicate with the citizens. The 2020 survey provides the latest update on citizen satisfaction i.e there is an increase in citizen satisfaction due to the availability of mobile access trends and easy chat facility. 

Using Drupal for digital transformation of government

Illustration with multiple hexagons describing the features of Drupal


Why choose Drupal for government websites? Drupal CMS tends to transform the web development scenario of the government websites dramatically. It provides excellent web services that help its users experience a dynamic digital transformation. Many prominent Drupal government websites are built with the help of the following significant Drupal features.

Open source

The Drupal project is completely open-source software. Everyone is free to download, use, work on and also share it with others.  It is based on principles like innovation, collaboration and globalism. It can be distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). There are no licensing fees for Drupal.

The Drupal community is ever ready to support its users by answering their questions and concerns. So, if you have any question, somebody will certainly answer it, since it’s a worldwide platform.

Learn more about open source here:

Content Workflow

The in-built tools in Drupal helps in content creation, workflow and publishing, making it easy for the content creators to efficiently do their work. Permission and authentication help in managing editorial workflows effectively. The facility of previews help in showing how the content will look on a device before the user approves and publishes the content. Drupal helps you in creating content with a WYSIWYG editor. It allows you to quickly track all revisions and changes, if you need to maintain a history of content changes. You can view the complete stages of your content, from creating, reviewing and publishing, enabling you to manage your roles and actions, automatically. The unique feature that Drupal provides is the ability to create a structured content i.e. describe content elements, tag content based on any attributes, form convenient taxonomy for content so that it can be looked, found, used and reused if necessary in ways that increases the customers satisfaction. 

Drupal helps in creating the convenient content architecture using the Admin Interface or even do it programatically. There is an availability of unique mode tools and views, customizable menus that can create a comfortable user experience, also creating ways to content across numerous devices.  

Read about how layout builder and paragraphs module enhance content workflow in Drupal.

Security

Drupal CMS is fully secure and it safeguards the websites from any types of serious internet vulnerabilities. It is designed keeping robust security in mind. There is a dedicated staff team of security specialists, along with a huge professional service provider ecosystem as security remains one of the top priorities of this free and open platform. Most of the security issues are handled by Drupal’s well built coding standards and strict code review procedure.

According to the 2020 edition of the Acunetix, Web Application Vulnerability Report, Drupal was found to be the most secure CMS in the open source CMS market.

Illustration with a circle describing the security analysis conducted by 2020 edition of the Acunetix, Web Accessibility and Vulnerability reportSource: Acunetix


Performance and scalability

When it comes to performance, Drupal’s built-in performance features, combined with a modern CDN provider, perform well under the pressure of supercharged databases, load-balancing and advanced caching. Drupal’s scalability refers to the fact that it can manage the largest high traffic sites in the world. To know more, read about Drupal’s performance optimisation offerings and how it scales with your needs to govern high web traffic.

Multilingual

Drupal's automated language translation helps in reaching different audiences with localized content. It builds customized sites in any language to complex multilingual web applications. Core modules in Drupal facilitate complete translation of every part of a site, content types and their specific fields, users, menus, taxonomy, blocks, comments and contact forms. It also permits the identification of preferred language in accordance with the user's IP address, URL, browser settings, session and more. Read more about Drupal’s multilingual capabilities here.

Accessibility

Drupal has a special feature of building websites accessible by people with disabilities. It ensures that all its features conform with the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines (W3C) guidelines: WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 2.0. This feature proves to be very prominent for the government sites as it successfully achieves one of the objectives to serve all its citizens regardless of any discrimination. 

Learn more about accessibility here:

Personalisation

Drupal builds an exclusive, personalized profile for each visitor, starting from using geolocation, browser history, behavior taxonomies and device type. It helps in gaining an overall customized experience, enabling you to track and report with A/B and multivariate testing, increasing ROI through target marketing and also provide segmentation of visitors over devices with an aim on the significant user identity for your business goals. 
Learn more about personalisation here:

SEO

Drupal has unique SEO tools that can improve your site’s visibility. The tools or modules are discussed below:

To know more, read this definitive guide to Drupal SEO in 2021.

Multi-site support

Drupal helps in managing multiple sites across your organization, geographies, brands and campaigns on a single platform that allows easy, fast website creation and deployment. Read this complete guide on Drupal multisite to know more.

Marketing automation

By using tools and modules, in recent versions, Drupal helps in easy integration with the automation platforms that can collect customer demographics, helping in converting potential leads within the most suitable time. Learn more about how marketing automation can be leveraged with Drupal here.

Mobile first approach and mobile apps

With Drupal you can build responsive websites and create web applications that can provide optimum visitor experiences. It helps in providing responsive design best practices and guarantee your users get a perfect content experience each time, on every device. To know more, read about mobile-first design approach and mobile apps like that of Flutter-powered delivered by Drupal.

Integration with third party tools

Drupal helps in smooth integration with a vast ecosystem of digital marketing technology and other business applications, so that you can use the finest set of tools today, and also flex with new tools tomorrow. Drupal’s API-first focus refers to connecting content to other websites and applications, building content more powerful. 

You can specify Drupal exactly what you want and create limitless solutions which support your business needs. 

Strong stack foundation

Drupal lives on the latest LAMP technology stack: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP that meet the needs of flexible, fast-moving agile enterprises and brands creating next generation digital platforms.

Decoupled architectures

Drupal provides content flexibility that will allow an easy flow of content over websites, native apps, connected devices and are displayed on third party sites and also social networks. Since, many CMSes try to manage content in a back-end repository and move it to “front-end” templates that can serve up an experience (mostly static). Drupal allows you to decouple the back and front ends, wherever it's useful. Therefore, Drupal content exists as reusable chunks, free from presentation, ready for easy delivery to websites and apps. Content also becomes future-proof. Drupal’s presentation i.e. RESTful API and neutral content help front-end developers to come out of the restrictions, enabling them to build interactive websites and applications, according to their preferences. They are allowed to use tools like Angular, Node, Ember, Backbone, and others. With this active platform, you can attain third-party content(eg. syndicators and aggregators) and make it available to any website, app or channel. With Drupal’s content-as-a-service capability, drupal’s content can be easily consumed by other applications and websites you choose. The Drupal front-end developers can easily design content, for example, separating back-end content from front-end presentation according to their preferences.

Learn more about decoupled Drupal here:

Web Hosting

With Drupal you can choose the best hosting vendor that suits your needs, you can change hosting vendors whenever you want, and also select to host the website internally. 

Upgrades and migrations

The Drupal upgrades are considered to be very easy and convenient. The upgrade from Drupal 8 to 9, Drupal 9 being the most recent and much improved version, is very effortless, according to its makers. The developers are allowed to make the upgrade themselves with the help of Upgrade Status and Drupal Module Upgrader. This further helps you to know whether your modules and themes are competent enough for Drupal 8/9 and converting your custom code accordingly. 

Learn more about Drupal 9 upgrade here:

Extensibility

Drupal has plenty of modules, themes and distributions to extend the functionalities.

For example, these are some of the Drupal distributions for government:

Opigno LMS

Opigno Learning Management System (LMS) is completely open-source, 100% customizable and 100% Drupal-based. It is a fully-fledged secure LMS for any organization or industry. It is used by Governments and Government agencies, higher education and large enterprises. This is available for Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 version is said to be available towards the end of August 2021.

Dimpact WIM

WIM is a complete free reusable website model designed for local government and municipalities. With WIM every municipality can experience a great online presence; smoothly and at minimal cost. The WIM sites are considered as a cooperative initiative of the Cooperative Association Dimpact from The Netherlands. Their goal is to achieve a modern integrated public service. Please note that this distribution is only available for Drupal 7.

GovCMS

Using Drupal 7 core, the govCMS distribution is built along with additional software such as modules, themes, libraries, and installation profiles specific to Australian government websites. This distribution is currently available for Drupal 7, 8 and 9 versions. For Drupal 7 version, you can check Drupal.org release and the repository for download can be found on GitHub here. For Drupal 8 and 9 versions, check out the Github repository here.

deGov

deGov is the first Drupal distribution that focuses on the needs of (German) governmental organizations. It is seen using lightning media as a basis and extends it with valuable functions to meet the use cases for various scenarios:

  • Sites for governmental organizations from all levels (federal, regional, local) to publish information
  • Service-oriented E-Government portals to end the gap between citizens and your administration
  • Citizen Engagement portals to discuss and decide online
  • Open311 portals for civic issue tracking
  • Open data portals to publish and form communities around data
  • Intranet/Extranet for government employees

The Drupal 9 version of this distribution is available for download.

Drupal voor Gemeenten

DvG is the "Drupal voor Gemeenten" distribution developed particularly for Dutch municipalities. It is built around the top tasks model, putting smooth and efficient online services front and center. This is available for Drupal 7.

There are also various Drupal themes for government that come handy:

USWDS Base

The United States Web Design System (USWDS) is a design system particularly built for the use of the Federal Government. This theme is the process to integrate the styles with Drupal. 

Government Website Template

Based on zen theme, the Government Website Template theme was efficiently modified and customized for the AO39 (administrative order no.39) Compliance. By using this foundation css theme framework (version 5.4.5), this theme provides a responsive design for the template. Additionally, it has a module helper that enhances the functionality of the template and it also adds additional blocks such as transparency seal and Philippine Standard Time(PST). 

GOV.UK Theme

The GOV.UK Design System Frontend node module is being used by this specific theme which also has Twig template files for the majority of the GOV.UK styles, components and patterns. It is completely responsive and multi-column with a mobile navigation menu. This theme shows full support to Drupal Webforms, along with client-side validation of necessary fields and identifying any error message when there is GOV.UK validation error. Also, it is compatible with Drupal 9. 

Bootstrap Rijkshuisstijl (Dutch Government Branding)

Netherland’s central government owns a standard Visual Identity which is used on every website. The central government visual branding i.e. "Rijkshuisstijl" has been further translated to the Rijkshuisstijl theme. The main features of this theme include:

  • Capable of being configured with every government agency.
  • Capable of being configured with 17 preset colour schemes.
  • Availability of responsive design and mobile first facility.
  • Digitoegankelijk compliant.
  • Bootstrap v4 is used as a design framework.
  • A living style guide is provided with a KSS node.
  • The theme is completely translated into Dutch.

The theme is compatible with Dupal 9 as well.

Bootstrap 4 GovBR SASS

The Bootstrap 4 GovBR SASS is a Barrio subtheme which simplifies integrating Bootstrap 4 SASS, GovBR visual standards, and "Barra do Governo" with Drupal. This particular subtheme overrides nearly every CSS from Drupal and replaces Bootstrap variables wherever necessary to build from the roots a new set of CSS files. It is compatible with Drupal 9.

GovBR theme

It is a responsive Bootstrap based theme along with the default identity of the Federal Government of Brazil. This theme has two requirements i.e., Bootstrap base theme and jQuery 1.9.x (jQuery Update recommended).

And, you also get really useful Drupal modules for the government. For example:

USWDS Ckeditor Integration

The USWDS library has become an essential requirement for government websites. This module majorly focuses on making a user to smoothly utilize and inject USWDS classes and components into the ckeditor without even opening the source event for a single time. The USWDS Ckeditor Integration module is compatible with Drupal 9.

GovCMS Dissemination Limiting Marker (DLM)

With regards to the paper–based information, all electronic–based information requires to be marked with a suitable protecting marketing. This particular theme provides the option to a user for setting a default Email Protective Marking, like SEC=UNOFFICIAL], appended to the end of the subject line for all outgoing emails sent using drupal_mail() on your site. 

So, these are some of the Drupal government themes, modules and distributions that help extend the features and functionalities of Drupal as you like.

Support, maintenance, hiring and partnering with digital agencies

There are a lot of Drupal agencies you can opt for. They tend to provide you with the best services possible, according to your convenience. The top 4 Drupal agencies in the global Drupal marketplace are listed below. 

Describing the top 4 Drupal agencies in the global Drupal marketplace with the help of a diagramSource: Drupal.org


Support for Emerging technologies

Drupal never steps back from utilizing the latest technologies to deliver a better user experience. Some of the examples can be the use of artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots, virtual reality, IoT and Blockchain, cognitive search and digital voice assistants like Alexa on Drupal sites. 

Therefore, the following question, “Why drupal for government” is well answered by the above features that allow the government to build very functional and secure websites for its citizens. 

Case studies 

Here are some of the case studies that tend to prove why Drupal’s the best choice when it comes to selecting the right CMS. 

Ministry of Finance, Somalia

MoF Somalia is responsible for government revenue raising, expenditure, preparing annual budgets and economic policies among other responsibilities. They were looking for a technology partner that would help them in presenting their website with a clean architecture and design to their global audience. The main goal was to restructure the website, to integrate all the new content types, along with a user-friendly navigation, also adding a custom type of publication to publish annual reports. OpenSense Labs leveraged Drupal to complete the project within 6 weeks using the agile project methodology. We successfully built a website which was a lot more user-friendly along with faceted search application features and loads in less time than before. The site became SEO friendly, with a much better architecture.  

Here is the detailed case study of the Ministry of Finance, Somalia. 

City of Boston

The City of Boston is well-known around the globe for its winning sports team, prestigious universities, New England food and rich history. It serves 4.8 million people in the Greater Boston area, supporting 23 neighborhoods. Boston, a pioneering city is famed for having the first public school, public park and subway system. The City of Boston’s website was 10 years old and was running on an outdated Content Management System which could no longer support its needs. The main aim was to build a responsive website that could meet all AA WCAG accessibility guidelines. Drupal finally built a website that dramatically enhanced the accessibility of information and services the city offers, and also marked a shift in residents’ expectations of government.  

  • The website has responsive mobile design
  • The new Boston.gov could meet all AA WCAG guidelines for accessibility and establish a 9-10th grade reading level (down from a postgraduate level)
  • Could Migrate more than 20,000 web pages and one million words to the new boston.gov
  • The website redesign could be delivered under budget
  • The new website launched 11 months after the kick-off meeting

NASA.gov

The challenge was to opt for an open source CMS in the Amazon cloud to migrate the existing site off of a proprietary, on-premise CMS system as fast as possible without causing any service interruptions for both public visitors and content managers. NASA wanted its new website to develop a solution that could offer both a modernized display as well as provide the same user experience on both desktop browsers and mobile devices. It was important to account for live coverage events drawing even larger crowds of online visitors, as well as to scale down when the events concluded. NASA wanted it’s CMS solution to accommodate continuous integration with new services and technologies - both commercially available and custom built.

Drupal helped in reducing the complete development timeline – designing, executing and deploying the solution from development to production, also saving NASA millions of dollars in annual savings at the same time. Building with Drupal on the Amazon cloud ensures that NASA’s content was stored securely, also providing NASA the advantages of very flexible development capabilities when designing, executing and integrating new features and services. With its user-driven API’s, infinite compute scalability and storage, dynamic host provisioning, constantly developed robust new features, Drupal and AWS proved to be the perfect match to meet the content requirement of both NASA and the public.

Talk London

Talk London is an online community where Londoners can share their opinion on the city's big issues. Since it is operated and managed on behalf of the Mayor of London by City Hall, the views shared through Talk London help to control the policy decisions of the future. It is a hub for crowd-sourcing ideas, raising awareness of initiatives, connecting Londoners to each other and City Hall so they can participate in designing and delivering improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. Talk London’s website (London.gov.uk) is built on Drupal 7. There was a requirement of an upgrade to Drupal 8 that would provide the chance to make Talk London 3.0 easy for the Londoners to get involved in policy and programme design, also refreshing the design with an updated brand identity. 

The goals for Talk London 3.0 were:

  • Developing a diverse membership
  • Growing participation
  • Focus on transparency

The Talk London website was rebuilt by using an agile project management approach (Scrum) on Drupal 8, incorporating a refreshed brand execution, and also using a Storybook pattern. The basic functional requirements included:

  • Advanced user generated content functionality
  • Email notifications for end users
  • Flexible content layouts for Talk London website editors

There was also a requirement of a large-scale migration of historical content from the old Drupal 7 platform to the new Drupal 8 implementation.

Talk London 3.0 was launched in early March 2021 at the time for the Covid 19 recovery campaign. 

Conclusion

Digital transformation in the government has become essentially important to meet its citizens' growing expectations and needs. Such a transformation can be challenging but eventually it proves to be rewarding for both the citizens and the government. So, a government that is ready to transform themselves and adopt the necessary digital technologies can improve the citizens’ quality of life and also enhance the citizen-government relationship. And Drupal proves to be the best support in building the bridge between people and their government.

Jul 30 2021
Jul 30

We are living in an era where there is no end to invention and innovation. The world seems to surprise us with unbelievable growth and transformation in all sectors of society. But the biggest challenge we are facing today is, ‘sustainability.’ Meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs is imperative. Today’s growing society is less concerned about it. This indeed brings a threat to the welfare of mankind.

As sustainability problems can be seen bothering every sector, so is open source. What do you think, is open source sustainable? Today in this article, you will discover what motivates one to contribute to open-source projects. If there are any challenges while contributing, what are they? Most importantly, we will unfold all the solutions of open-source sustainability making it a secure community for all. 

What’s in open source for any individual or a company

Illustration showing multiple circles describing the benefits for an individual in open source and ensuring open source sustainability


The open-source movement is growing rapidly around the world by providing a great platform for people willing to utilize their talents and do wonders in their aspiring careers or businesses. With increasing users, we now see a growth in the contributors as well in the community. Some of the reasons why an individual should contribute to open source projects are discussed further. To start with, one gets valuable work experience which helps in shaping one’s career path by being a part of this community. Open-source projects allow one to enhance his/her coding skills and become a successful coder. Great job opportunities come along and one gets the chance to build a flourishing career. This platform gives an exposure to work with people who are superbly talented to guide a beginner participant regarding any open source projects or technologies. Open source projects are very inclusive. Therefore, people from different work backgrounds are welcomed in this community. Lastly, an OSS participant gets global recognition as his/her work is easily accessible and used by people around the globe. 

Illustration with a circle describing the benefits for an organization in open source and ensuring open source sustainability


Why should businesses take interest in contributing to open-source projects? With open source projects, you can make your company staff learn new concepts, ideas, or unique techniques to meet work needs or expectations. Using open-source software in place of expensive proprietary alternatives can be a good option in saving a lot of money which can further be used in meeting a company's other important requirements. The companies can contribute to open source projects according to their preferences. For example, Pfizer, the huge pharmaceutical company, has contributed to Drupal’s 8 content workflow system to shape one of the world’s most powerful content management systems. 

This platform allows you to find new clients and potential employees who can contribute to the growth and development of your company’s goals and aspirations. While using open-source software, you can analyze the code of the product you’re using and also change it according to your choice. Such modification is possible due to the availability of open source licenses. In open source after a software gets released, if a user wants certain types of changes, he doesn’t have to wait for someone. But rather he/she can make the changes in the form of updating and expanding with numerous plugins and modules also sharing them with the community. Therefore, this gives you a sense of ownership and self-satisfaction. So, these were some of the reasons listed to show the need for companies to run on open source. More on the impact of large companies on open source here.

Now, once an organization decides to run on open source, then one question which comes to my mind is, “How do you manage open source projects”? It isn’t an easy task because you will have to look into various aspects to successfully be a part of this free and open movement. Only by choosing the right open source project, one’s job doesn’t get finished unless there is approval coming from the product owners, legal departments, or executives to smoothly use the open-source projects. Sometimes organizations worry about the risks associated with open-source projects. Therefore, the following tips can reduce the concerns of the organizations making them more confident about choosing an open-source community. 

Illustration showing multiple circles describing the tips to reduce risk in open source project and ensure open source sustainability
  • Implementing component lifecycle management. You should develop a process to determine which components are acceptable for people in your organization to use. The level of risk can be reduced by testing components or doing static and dynamic analysis which further builds up more confidence with executives.
  • Finding the right convincer. If you find a person at your organization who can take the authority of convincing the project owners or legal departments to understand your company’s concern and work in your favor, then it will certainly help in the smooth functioning of your company’s work within the community. 
  • Get help from the open-source project. You will find that many open source communities include people who can help you in building a well-structured business case for your approvers. This indeed will be a great help for your organization to initiate a task or a project in the open-source community with clarity and confidence. 

Increasing awareness about the challenges of open source 

While contributing to open-source projects, one comes across few challenges which create hurdles in the process of participating in the community. Therefore, these challenges need to be overcome so that the growth and future of the open-source community are not hampered. Let’s find out what makes a good open-source project? 

Illustration showing multiple hexagons describing the challenges of open-source and how to ensure open source sustainability
  • Need for proper financial resources to support open source projects. The participants of OSS need adequate financial assistance for the smooth functioning of the community. This will further help in sustaining the contributors in open source projects for a longer time.  
  • Communication needs to be made stronger among OSS members. Good communication must be built up among the participants of OSS projects as this will help in proper coordination and understanding of the projects in a much better way.
  • One has to be smart enough to consult the right mentor for better performance. To gain knowledge about the OSS projects, it is essential to take guidance from an experienced person who has a high proficiency in terms of OSS projects and software.
  • Improvement is needed in the field of OSS governance. Good governance is followed by a code of conduct describing the guidelines and principles for the contributors to get full transparency and clarity about the OSS projects. The OSS projects should have a roadmap document describing the future goals, ideas, and plans to inspire participants of the community to reach the desired work aspirations.
  • The ratio between takers and makers has to be well balanced. The number of users and contributors has to be proportionate so that along with the usage of software, contributions can also be made to help the OSS community grow and flourish for a longer time. 
  • Improvement to be made in the field of security. Open-source security needs more development for increasing the trust factor of its users and contributors. For example, the OpenSSL and Heartbleed case can be an eye-opener regarding the significance of maintaining proper security within the community. Read the complete open source security manual here.

Here, I would like to take you through a discussion held between Aaron Stannard, CTO, and founder of Petabridge, and Rachel Appel, NET Developer Advocate at JetBrains regarding open-source sustainability challenges. It is generally observed that open source is adopted by the majority of the organizations but still it is seen struggling as a result of misalignment between the user’s value and contributor’s value. Therefore, there is a need for a better business model to help open source sustain for a longer time. Take a look.

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Ensuring sustainability and maintenance of open-source projects

Focusing on improvement: How do you maintain open-source software

By far we all have understood that the contribution made to improve sustainability in open-source isn’t enough. So, let’s look into the possibilities which can help to enhance sustainability in open-source in a much better way.

Illustration showing multiple circles describing the tips to ensure open source sustainability


How do you organize an open-source project? Let’s start with the most fundamental significance of open-source sustainability i.e. the governance. Good governance consists of a code of conduct that is created to state the project details enabling the contributors to have a clear understanding of OSS projects. Next, it is very essential to maintain a high-quality document as it receives the most amount of traffic. Documents like Contributor’s Guide can be of great help for the contributors. Depending on the quality of the project’s documentation, a contributor decides whether to continue learning about your project or not. 

There is a need to maintain high-quality code throughout the project. A documented code review process should be followed for every type of contribution including both human approval procedure and automated checks to maintain high-quality code standards. It is a good idea to set up a legal organization to safeguard the liabilities of individuals involved in the project. To give clarity to the community members, there should be an open ledger for every project’s income and expenditure showing how funds are spent on projects. Lastly, there is a need to improve the licensing of OSS projects as fair licensing of all contributions safeguards the security of the community. 

Therefore, with the above discussion you get clarity about how to create a successful open source project. 
 
Now let’s have a look at the basic sustainability principles of open-source which are of great importance. By following these set principles, the longevity of the open-source community can be guaranteed. Here it goes:

  • Under a Free and open source license, the software must be released. More on open source licensing here.
  • In the community, the membership rules must be published and adhered to.
  • All types of contributors shall have the availability of membership within the community. 
  • Membership must-have requirements for validation of identity, and review of contribution to the community (to avoid stacking the membership roles). Any impediment to membership must be low enough that a person with the least advantage could achieve it.
  • To give each member an equal vote, the voting process must be put in the proper place.
  • All positions of authority in the project must be, directly or indirectly, the result of a vote.
  • A strong code of conduct with clear, fair enforcement mechanisms is needed.
  • Under the terms of the open-source license, any patents included in the software must be granted.
  • Every contributor must retain his/her copyright unless the software is being managed by a foundation for license enforcement.
  • All contributors intending to have their work incorporated into a distribution must contribute their work under the same terms as the software license they received it under.
  • Any commercial activity around the software must further the sustainability of the community, and the potential for commercial benefit must be available to all.
  • The incentives in any commercial model must bend away from the creation of proprietary downstream software.

Contributing to open source: Essential strategies

To make meaningful contributions in open source projects, various strategies are developed which act as a support in sustaining participants in open source. The steps taken to bring a positive change within the community are discussed below.

Hiring sufficient maintainers for OSS projects. The companies can balance the workload by hiring suitable maintainers to handle the numerous OSS projects. They should have the flexibility of working with the contributors and handle projects according to their own convenience.

Here, we have an example of Drupal, where people are seen contributing according to their conveniences. Contributions are made in the form of a volunteer contribution, a sponsored contribution, and both volunteer and sponsored contributions at the same time. Generally, all the contributors provide support to Drupal in their respective capacities. But surprisingly, for the first time in Drupal’s record, volunteer contribution remained static due to the challenging time of COVID -19, in comparison to the increasing sponsored contribution. Take a look below. 

Graphical representation of volunteer and sponsored contributors' contribution in open-source during the COVID 19Source: Drupal.org

Developing an open-source award program. It is always a good idea to acknowledge the contributors with awards and recognitions. It also has a very special recognition for its contributors. When any contribution is made, it is marked with a green square on a huge calendar. With more contributions, the square becomes even brighter. If you contribute for several consecutive days, then GitHub counts it as a streak and records your score for future reference. This can be a way to motivate people for more active contributions. Below is the diagram:

Graphical representation given by GitHub about contributors' contribution in open-source for the year of 2017 Source: GitHub

The Drupal Association too hasn’t stepped back and introduced the contribution recognition committee a unique way to recognize the contributions of both individual contributors and their organizational sponsors, followed by measuring the contribution ecosystem which supports Drupal. This will encourage the employees to work even harder to generate unique innovation and ideas for the community. 
 
Starting an open-source program office. Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc have set up formal open-source programs within their companies to look after the open-source strategy to use and contribute better in OSS projects. 

Giving contributors their self-time. Apart from working at a company, employees should have their self-time where they can work on anything they want. This can help them to be more innovative and productive as they would dedicate their time according to their choice. For example, Google allotted 20% time to its employees to work for themselves which as a result led to the discovery of many innovative products. Similar flexibility was shown by Atlassian as they also set up a policy where their staff got 20% time allocation to work according to their own will. This further helped Atlassian to come up with great work ideas and innovations. Such a facility can help in employee contentment and retention.

Contributing to the non-coding tasks. The non-coders of a company can educate people about the benefits of contributing to OSS projects by writing blog posts. If someone is interested in designing, then he/she can help the developers with some design ideas regarding any icons or logos which could make their app look visually appealing and also help in justifying the concept or purpose of the app.

Open source has a funding problem: Resolving economic woes

  • Companies can start an open-source fund to support OSS projects financially. For example, CarGurus launched an open-source fund to support OSS projects. Contributing a portion of a company’s equity to open-source can be very beneficial. Here is an example, Citus data donated one percent of its equity to the PostgreSQL community. There are some initiatives taken by an American foundation i.e. the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a nonprofit organization, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) in providing financial support to open source software as well. Along with funding, there is also a need for full transparency regarding the finances, allowing everyone to see the money received and spent on any project. Therefore, Open Collective is the best example of providing such assistance to open source contributors helping them to get a clear vision about their finances and plan a better and healthier community for all.
  • GitHub announced an initiative called GitHub Sponsors where the users of OSS projects can pay the contributors for their work within GitHub. Such commercial sponsorship is very important to acknowledge the contributors for their work towards OSS projects. This not only helps open-source projects to sustain their contributors but also improves their diversity within the community. More on the diversity, inclusion and equity in open source here.
  • The Linux Foundation at the Open-Source Leadership Summit announced the formation of CommunityBridge, a platform for open-source developers. While announcing this, Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation said that the Linux Foundation would match funding for any organization that donated funds to Community Bridge projects. Read more about open source being recession-free and how the right sort of leadership within open source makes a world of difference.

What’s next?

How do you create an open source sustainability? I hope now you can answer this question in a very confident way since in this article we tried covering every aspect of open source sustainability. Well sustainability is not a one-off investment. It needs constant nurturing and support from its contributors. Therefore, every member of the community shall take ownership of delivering consistent efforts towards the longevity of open source projects. With open-source, together we learn and innovate. 

Conclusion

Over the last two decades, there has been a rapid growth of open-source technology around the world. Therefore, it leads to an increase in demand for better OSS projects, products, and services which isn’t possible without the support of its dedicated contributors. So, amid all the challenges that come across while contributing to OSS projects, the contributors shouldn’t step back from contributing and making the open-source community sustainable for us and our future generations. Now, I would like to end this article by pointing out a very important fact that the rights of the contributors are always to be safeguarded and taken care of in the most effective way.

Jul 17 2021
Jul 17

Drupal is evolving as one of the leading open-source projects that is providing the best services to its community by adopting some significant initiatives, focusing on desirable goals and outcomes. These initiatives are known as strategic initiatives that are currently being worked on and are progressing over a while. Therefore, strategic initiatives of Drupal play a major role in making Drupal the first choice for any open-source user. This article will take you through the contributions made by these initiatives in helping Drupal reach the position that it stands today. 

The role of strategic initiatives in Drupal’s success

Drupal is supported by its community and group collaborations that lead to accomplishing common priority goals. Their strategic initiatives are prioritized at solving major problems that act as a barrier for the users from receiving the optimum benefits from this free and open platform.

Dries Buytaert, Drupal founder and project lead, envisioned the power of strategic initiatives in making Drupal a huge success. Receiving support from community collaboration, these initiatives have contributed to producing some remarkable developments driven by forces such as:

  • Cooperation with the core maintainers
  • Studies related to usability and survey data
  • Building an open-source digital platform experience
  • An improvement in customer experience and advanced editorial can lead to progress in market relevance
  • The facility of validation by collaborations and larger community discussions 

After the initiatives are recommended, they are forwarded to the planned initiatives stage, where every initiative is nourished with objectives and goals by its dedicated contributors. Once an initiative crosses this stage, it then moves forward to the next stage, i.e. active initiatives stage. This is how initiatives come into existence. Drupal has numerous ongoing strategic initiatives that are in progress to provide exceptional outcomes. To learn more on how Community initiatives are proposed and how Strategic initiatives come about, read here. Also, learn what’s happening with these strategic initiatives: Drupal 10 readiness initiative and Automatic updates initiative. We will now focus upon another strategic initiative of Drupal, Decoupled menus which has significantly contributed to Drupal's accomplishments.

Understanding Decoupled menus initiative in depth

At the event of DrupalCon Global 2020, Dries came up with an idea of a new initiative for building a decoupled menu component that is well written in JavaScript. Therefore, for Drupal, to be framework agnostic, he preferred to begin with building components for Vue.js and React.js.

Dries expresses that various websites are progressing into customized, omnichannel digital experiences. Drupal has to keep on advancing with the growing demands in the marketplace. It has to be built into the best web service platform and well-structured data engine regarding the back end. On the other hand, JavaScript seems to grow rapidly on the front end. As Drupal is considered as a decoupled CMS and capable headless, a lot of improvements and advancements can be made with the right approach.

Learn more about decoupled Drupal here:

According to the Drupal 2020 Product Survey, the second most requested feature was a need for a much modern administration UI. Such types of UIs can be built with the help of web services APIs and JavaScript. There is a major need to improve JavaScript and invest in web services APIs. It is well proved by the following facts.

  • Most of Drupal’s end users focus on creating decoupled front ends and omnichannel digital experiences.
  • An improvement can be made upon its administration UI with more WYSIWYG, drag-and-drop, and other ease-of-use features.

Dries further shares that to take a step towards enhancing Drupal's headless capabilities and administration UI, there is a need to include official Drupal JavaScript components to Drupal Core. The first step can be executing a JavaScript menu component in Vue and React. It can mark the first official JavaScript component in Drupal. By developing a JavaScript component, the major issues of the front-end developers can be solved. So, this menu component would provide a menu that can be placed in a front-end JavaScript application. To release the first official JavaScript component, will require the tools and processes to control and release JavaScript components. This further helps in forming a pattern for more components allowing Drupal to successfully embrace JavaScript, the need of the hour.

Illustration with a rectangle describing the path towards having a first official JavaScript component which is longer than it might appearSource: Drupal.org

The path to having a first official JavaScript component is longer than it may appear.
                                           
Here, I would like to take you across one important aspect of Decoupled menus, i.e. Drupal Decoupled Menus Survey which was announced at DrupalCon Global 2020. The reason behind conducting this survey was to get an insight into the preferences of individuals and organizations who have already built decoupled applications. By receiving the necessary understanding, Drupal actively tries to make this platform a preferred choice for the JavaScript developers. Therefore, using Survey Monkey, this analysis was executed and was promoted majorly through existing Drupal developer channels.

The primary goal of the decoupled menus initiative in Drupal is to facilitate the most convenient way for JavaScript front-ends to consume configurable menus managed in Drupal. It includes forming official, community-supported components (e.g. React & Vue) that one can use in his project or as a recommended implementation followed by necessary support that includes docs, security, and packaging, etc. Drupal prefers to keep a practically achievable target, for example, stating the fact that they will be able to ship a single menu component in place of an entire overhaul of Drupal's admin UI is good proof.

Illustration with a rectangle describing the mission and success of Decoupled menus initiative of DrupalSource: Drupal.org


Challenges faced

JavaScript is rapidly growing but Drupal doesn’t have much to offer to this specific field resulting in the feeling of incompetence among its competitors. Using Drupal, many developers are seen building “decoupled sites” for the back end and JS frameworks for the front end. This makes the following people less likely to opt for Drupal:

  • Since by using Drupal not many benefits are attained, JavaScript developers show less interest in this open-source project.
  • Less participation by Drupal evaluators who would prefer using Drupal for its content management features but at the same time would want their site to witness the more "application-like" experience facilitated by modern JavaScript frameworks. They would want to hire developers who are well versed in HTML, CSS, and JS, but not importantly familiar with Drupal.

Problems to be resolved

  • Drupal lacks an important process for building, maintaining modern JavaScript libraries, and shipping.
  • Drupal doesn’t share a good connection with the JavaScript developers as it is unable to resolve the problems they witness.
  • Working on a site using a JavaScript front end, the content editors have less authority over their content and also the structure of their site.

Solutions to the existing problems

With the help of the below strategies, it is possible to solve all the above-discussed problems.

  • Including read-only menu items to Drupal's HTTP APIs (e.g. the JSON: API module)
  • An easy process made for a front-end developer to consume the menu data to provide navigation instead of hardcoding it by:
  1. Writing documentation for the process of integrating a React or Vue application with Drupal to render an effective menu.
  2. Eliminating the unnecessary and monotonous steps by providing JavaScript tools and/or libraries for consuming the HTTP API specified above. With the help of these libraries or tools, the processes for building modern JavaScript and policies can be documented and approved.

This initiative is suitable for

  • It will be beneficial for JavaScript framework developers who would want to use Drupal as a back end and also provide user-editable menus.
  • A good option for Drupal evaluators who prefer to have all of Drupal's CMS features and more options for their front end.

Scope excludes

  • Components of frontend with markup and styles
  • Changes made to admin UI/editing interface

Here is a short informative video giving a brief about Decoupled menus initiative in a very interesting way. Take a look.

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To emphasize more upon the milestone which this initiative has achieved, take a look at the Decoupled Menus Initiative Keynotes which were delivered at DrupalCon North America 2021. Below are the sessions.

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Conclusion

Drupal aims at building a community where the participants can easily get access to all its features, new modules, etc without any concerns that can make their software and sites much secure and convenient. This desired vision can be turned into reality by the support of strategic initiatives that can significantly make a positive shift in attaining the community goals and objectives. Decoupled menus are one of the most key initiatives that focus on upgrading the most expeditiously grown JavaScript of present times. Hence, this initiative is a work in progress that will lead to exceptional outcomes making Drupal the best choice for an open-source platform.

Jul 09 2021
Jul 09


Imagine there is a project that only has one person working on it. All the developments and challenges are going to be performed and overcome by him. Nobody can say that the project would not be successful, it very well can be.

Now compared to the previous project, think of a second one. This has a whole bunch of people working on it. The solutions aren’t coming from a single brain, but from loads of expert brains. 

So, if we had to judge the success rates of these two projects, on which would you place your bet on? For many of us the answer would be the second project with a massive team of experts, who’d be able to come up with more solutions and developments than a single person ever can.

And that is open source software for you. It is a platform wherein, one person creates a software, and other developers have an opportunity to read his source code, to use it, to modify it and redistribute it with the modifications. Open source software makes it possible for people to come together and work magic with their intellect and skills.

However, with that kind of liberty in development, there are often times when people after modifying an open source make it a proprietary software. Sometimes an open source developer wouldn’t mind it, but there is also the chance that he’ll feel misused. To overcome these scenarios, a solution was thought and that is what we are going to be discussing today. So, let’s begin.

How Open Source Licensing Came to Be?

A broad timeline is shown depicting the emergence and the current status of open source licensing.


You would be surprised to know that the origins of open source licensing can be traced back to a consent decree issued by the United States Government. Yup, you read it right. This was back in the late 60s and early 70s, when the Unix operating system was emerging, being the first general purpose operating system. 

The US government barred AT&T, the founders of Unix, from engaging in any commercial activity outside of their primary field of operations, which was telephone services. So, what did AT&T do? It did the next best thing, given the decree. 

Making Unix a commercial software was out of the question. So, AT&T gave away its source code to be modified and shared. Of course, this was done under a set of terms and guidelines, but computer scientists of that period didn’t mind that, nor would the computer scientists of today mind it. This open source code made Unix extremely popular. 

If we look at this scenario carefully, it is essentially an open source license by definition. Let’s see how.

So, what is an open source license?

Open source licensing is a system that dictates the terms and conditions of the use, modifications and distribution of the software code by people other than the originator of the software. It essentially includes the permissions and rights that would be required to use or repurpose the code for building newer applications with it or adding it into existing projects.

Now, can you possibly tell me that what Unix did was any different? I don’t think so. 

Open source software licenses indeed go back to the late 60s, however, its more formal use was witnessed in the 90s with the introduction the GNU project thanks to Richard Stallman. He later created the GNU GPL license. The terms of this license were that anyone could redistribute software, provided that the source code was open and not as secret.

Then with the advent and popularity of the Linux operating system and its adoption of the GNU GPL license, open source licensing became the norm.

According to the Open Source Initiative, today there are about 80 approved open source licenses. And you yourself can create one for your software, the Open Source Initiative would make you go through its license review process. You can very well do it, however, not many would recommend it.

So, in essence open source licenses are contracts for open source projects, which are as legal as they are binding, between the authors of the software and the people who would use its components.

To highlight the importance of an open source license, I’d say that it is these that actually make software development become aligned with open source. Without an open source license, the software cannot be used and redistributed by anyone, despite the fact that its source code is publicly available. And they are similar in cost as compared to OSS, so, when asking, are open source licenses free, the answer is yes, much like the software itself.

How are Open Source Licenses Distinguished?

Now that  the meaning of open source licenses is explained, let’s move further along. What started out as a single license by Stallman has become a standard practice in the open source community. I mentioned earlier that there are about 80 open source licenses available today, however, if these were to be categorised, you would only be able to get two. And these two mark the distinction in the form and application of the said licenses.

And here are the open source licenses by category:

The two categories of open source licenses are highlighted in a diagram.


Permissive Licenses 

Upon looking at the definition of the term permissive, you’d find words like liberal, excessive freedom, non-restrictive and my favourite, open--minded. And these words just about define the scope of these licenses. 

As their name implies, the permissive open source licenses provide more freedom to use, to modify and to redistribute software. You can do anything you want, even using the software for proprietary purposes is not off the table.

The only aspect on which these licenses have a restriction on the acknowledgement of the author. What this means is that you have to adhere to the copyright notice and keep that in place when you are distributing your own software. As long as you do that, anything goes here. Even if you do not want to share the source code of the modifications, it is totally alright.

Copyleft Licenses 

As far as free softwrae licenses go, copyleft license is at an 180 degree angle from permissive. If one is the North Pole, the other is the South Pole. 

Why?

It is because, while permissive licenses boast freedom and liberty, copyleft licenses are the epitome of restrictions. When a copyleft license is issued on a program, other developers can use it, modify it and redistribute it, however, the redistribution has to be aligned with the copyleft license terms. This means the modified program has to make the source code publicly available, just like the original program. And there is no going about it. 

The GNU GPL license, now on its third version, is the paradigm here. Stallman did not appreciate companies using his software and then closing it off as proprietary. And that is what this license prevents.

So, what happens when a proprietary software uses a program with a copyleft license in its source code? 

It would have to make it public and possibly release the entire software royalty-free, since it would be under the stringent terms of the copyleft license. The risk of exposing your intellectual property comes inherent in these licenses.

Furthermore, you cannot place any more restrictions on the licensee’s way of exercising his license. You could say that the phrase, anything goes, doesn’t come close to the definition of a copyleft license.

Let’s Look at Some of the Popular Open Source Licenses

After the categories of open source licenses, the next thing to know is the licenses that have been issued under them. I wouldn’t be talking about all 80 of the licenses approved by OSI, that would take ages for me to write and you’d get bored halfway through the read. So, I have a list of 9 of the most used open source licenses. 

So, let’s begin looking at open source license examples based on the category they fall under. 

Permissive licenses 

The examples of permissive licenses are shown in a diagram.


Apache 2.0

Being a liberal license, the Apache license 2.0 allows the freedom of using, modifying and distributing any of its products. The requirement here is to include the license notifications and copyrights on the distributed code or like a notice in the software itself or both. 

Under this license's terms of service, it is not mandatory to release its source code upon distribution, be it a derivative work, a larger project or basic modifications. All of these can carry different licensing terms. 

MIT

The simplest type of license of them all, named after the famous university, it’ll only take me a single sentence to explain it. MIT license is the license that allows you to do anything with the original code, with no restrictions on distributions, as long as you keep the original copyright and license notice in the distributed source code or software.

Berkeley Software Distribution

The BSD license, like the other two permissive licenses, lets you freely modify and distribute the software contingent upon you keeping the copyright notice, following the list of conditions along with the disclaimer. 

It has three categories to it; 

  • The 4-clause BSD was the original and first BSD license and had an advertising clause and a non-endorsement clause; 
  • The 3-clause BSD was the modified version without the advertising clause; 
  • And the 2-clause BSD, also known as FreeBSD, further removed the non-endorsement clause, making it almost similar to MIT in simplicity and use.

Copyleft licenses

The popular examples of copyleft licenses are shown in the image using a diagram.


GNU GPL 

GNU General Public License is by far one of the most popular open source licenses, being associated with the free software foundation, and pioneer of the copyleft licenses, being the first one to be OSI approved,. It was established to prevent your software from becoming proprietary. 

The GNU GPL license states that any software using a GPL component, despite its proportion of use, has to make its source code publicly available upon distributing. You are going to be passing on the same rights you received through the license to the person adopting your software, meaning if your source code is in the public domain, anyone using your component has to do the same. This makes the GPL license the strongest copyleft version.

At present, GPLv3 is the version that is being widely adopted.

Affero GPL

You would think that the GPL license must be full-proof without any loopholes, but there is one. The GNU GPL license only works when the software developed using a GPL component gets distributed. However, when the same is made available over a network, there aren’t going to be any red flags. 

To counter this predicament, the Affero GPL license comes in, it essentially monitors the distribution over networks, even remote ones, and sends the right alerts to the GPL license. This makes the AGPL quite important for many.

Lesser GPL 

The LGPL license is another variant of the GNU GPL license. There aren’t any more loopholes that it would cover up. It offers much the same license notifications and copyright protection. The only difference here is the size of a project can change the license terms. 

For explanation, a smaller project under a larger project would not have to comply with the larger project’s licensing terms. And a smaller project accessed as part of a larger project would not be asked to share the source code of the larger project. I’d say LGPL makes the GPL licenses seem a little liberal.

Mozilla Public License 

The MPL, maintained by the Mozilla Foundation, is as liberal a copyleft license as they come. The reason lies in its distribution protocol. As a copyleft license, the MPL does mandate that the modified code of its component be made public, however, this public sharing is only applicable to the modifications that have the licensed components and not the entire software. The stipulation is to store the MPL code in separate files and make that openly available.

The license is compatible with GNU GPL, given its enforced copyright notices and patent grants. Nonetheless, it is often considered to be a balance between permissive and copyleft licenses. 

Common Development and Distribution License

Often referred to as the cleaned up version of the MPL, CDDL has much the same attributes of the former. Given the fact that it was inspired by MPL, that comes as no surprise. 

Upon distributing the software in executable form, it is mandatory that you make the source code available. However, if your contributions aren’t part of the original software and are separate files, you are not required to make it public by releasing it under CDDL. A lot similar to MPL, right?

With this license, you will have the liberty to modify and distribute the original or derivative works of any CDDL software. The only stipulations are on changes to copyright, patent or trademark notices of the software along with keeping on the contributor acknowledgements and license notices.

Eclipse Public License 

Founded by the Eclipse Foundation, the EPL has certain requirements on the distribution of an EPL component. However, these vary given the circumstance of the modified code’s distribution patterns. 

  • Modifying and distributing an EPL component in the source code of your project mandates you to disclose the modified code under the EPL;
  • While modifying the and distributing the same in the form of object code would mandate you to make the code available upon request. Further, you would also be asked to disclose the way in which the source code can be requested. 

What is more is that individual program components, including EPL, non-EPL and proprietary code, can be clubbed together and sub-licensed. All you would have to do for that is ensure that the non-EPL elements are separate objects.

A Quick Look at Open Source License Example Through Drupal

Is Drupal free to use? Yes, it is.

Is Drupal free for commercial use? Yes, it is.

Why? 

Drupal is an open source CMS, that is why. And to call itself open source, it had to be registered under a license. And of course, it is. Drupal is licensed under GNU GPL Version 2 or later. All the contributed files that are hosted on Drupal.org are licensed under the same. 

The logo of Drupal 9 and GNU GPL can be seen on a dark background.


You can freely download, reuse, modify and redistribute any component of a Drupal.org project under the terms of the GPL license, that we talked about earlier. The core software on Drupal can also be run and licensed in combination with a version 2 or 3 compatible license. Saying that Drupal projects can very well depend on or be linked to GPL incompatible non-code assets, however this relies on the maintainer possessing the rights to distribute the non-code assets.

Let’s now look at the specific aspects of Drupal and how they are licensed. 

  • The files, be it PHP, JavaScript or images, being a part of a Drupal project are licensed under the license as Drupal.
  • The modules and themes are considered derivative works and so are to be distributed under the GPL version 2 or 3. 
  • The content, however, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.
  • The sample code follows the same GPL licensing terms.

Considering all of these, who would you guess holds the copyright of the code in Drupal?

The answer is its hundreds and thousands of contributors, who agree to release their code under the same license. However, if a contributor has created a patch, but isn’t willing to license it under the GPL, he should probably not submit it and the point of retaining a copyright on the same would be moot. 

Learn more about open source here:

Perks of being an open source contributor
Impact of large enterprises on open source
Open source leadership
How open source remains recession-free
Impact of open source during Covid-19 pandemic
Diversity, equity and inclusion in open source
Open source security

Conclusion 

When I started writing this blog, I considered the copyleft licenses to be rigid and unattractive. However, realising that its pioneer is the license behind Drupal made me change my perspective. Drupal has helped a community of close to a million come together and build and distribute their work and that would not have been possible or even beneficial, had the source code not been publicly available. 

So, open source licenses as per their meaning can be liberal and rigid, but I personally feel that the rigidness serves more purpose than the liberty ever could. 

Jul 09 2021
Jul 09

Drupal prioritizes community contributions and group collaborations which helps in evolving Drupal as one of the leading open-source projects, providing best services to its community. To add a significant contribution, the Drupal community members actively work on projects like Drupal Core and contribute modules, distributions, and themes respectively. It discovered a convenient way to progress in all its projects by creating community initiatives to focus upon some major tasks and goals. Therefore, Dries Buytaert, founder and project lead of the Drupal project, considers few initiatives as crucially important and identifies them as Strategic Initiatives. One of the major strategic initiatives, automatic updates plays a huge role in making Drupal more effective and relevant with the ever-changing web sphere. So, in this article, we will discuss how automatic updates finally made it to Drupal? 

Strategic initiatives behind Drupal’s success 

Drupal is seen largely focusing on executing its several recommended strategic initiatives and never-ending innovation. These strategic initiatives aim at solving issues that create hurdles for the users in receiving the maximum benefits from this free and open platform. They have contributed in producing some extraordinary developments driven by forces such as:

  • Creating an open-source digital platform experience
  • Usability studies and survey data availability
  • By improving editorial, developer, and customer experience, market relevance is increased
  • Cooperation with the core maintainers
  • The provision of validation by collaborations and larger community discussions 

To learn more on how Community initiatives are proposed and how Strategic initiatives come about, read here. Also, learn what’s happening with Drupal 10 readiness initiative and Decoupled menus initiative. Moving forward, we will now take a closer look at one of the most important strategic initiatives i.e. Automatic updates initiative in Drupal. 

Automatic updates: In Detail

Illustration with a rectangle describing security status in Drupal's Automatic UpdatesSource: Drupal.org

Updating a Drupal site manually can be expensive, time-consuming and extremely difficult. Therefore, to resolve this major concern, Drupal created the Automatic Updates Initiative that can help users to experience safe and convenient automatic updates for Drupal sites. 

The primary goal of Automatic Updates in Drupal

The prime goal of this initiative is to strategically implement a safe system for Drupal’s automatically installing updates, reducing Drupal site’s total maintenance costs, enhancing Drupal site’s security that further leads to good user experience and making an easy entry for the users to the Drupal community without any major concerns. A look at the roadmap of the automatic updates initiative

The target audience of Automatic Updates

Drupal Automatic updates are not a good fit for large-scale organizations as they have their own established roadmaps and exclusive pipelines. But such initiatives can be beneficial for small-to-medium website owners as they lack in building proper workflow and system.

Some organizations with progressive deployment work plans might prefer using the automatic updates initiatives at the last step before production, i.e. staging environment. To integrate verified updates into custom build work plans, this initiative also facilitates APIs.

Scope of Automatic Updates: Overview of what this scope includes and excludes

Scope includes

The minimum Drupal core implementation includes:

  • Availability of automatic updates for Drupal core patch and security releases.
  • For safe updates, site readiness checks are available.
  • Verification and code signing is accessible for updates from Drupal.org
  • Attainability of Composer integration.
  • A custom “A/B” bootloader helps in updating in a distinct location from the live site that allows switching over at the time of successful update, also providing rollbacks in case the update introduces regressions or fails. 

Scope excludes

The minimum implementation doesn’t support:

  • Major version updates and core minor.
  • The availability of contributed project updates.


Automatic Updates is an ongoing strategic initiative and it is still being developed for better outcomes. Here are some of the significant elements that need to be looked over.

  • This initiative is yet not in core. There is an initial prototype that is available as a contributed module. Although, the core solution shall be different from this module.
  • The first phase of the Automatic Updates module includes Public service announcements (PSAs), Readiness check features, and also apply In-place updates either on cron or manually. 

Here is a short video giving an update on Drupal 8’s Automated Updates Initiative. It provides a quick look into the features of automatic updates i.e. Public service announcements, Readiness check and In-place updates. Don’t miss it, take a look.

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A quick look into the key features of automatic updates:

Public service announcements (PSAs)

Infrequent announcements are done for extremely critical security releases regarding core and contrib modules. Once a PSA is released, site owners should review their sites so that they are well updated with the latest releases. The site should be in a good position to instantly update if any fixes are provided to the community.

Readiness check

It isn’t possible for all the sites to frequently go for updates. The readiness check can be termed as an automated method that helps in recognizing the capacity of a site for automatic updates after any new release is provided to the community. Here is an example, the sites having un-run database updates, working on read-only file systems, or do not have enough disk space for updating, will not be able to receive automatic updates. In case your site fails readiness check, meanwhile, a PSA is released, it is imperative to look after the readiness issue so that your site can be instantly updated.

In-place updates

  • If the PSA service notifies a Drupal site owner about a convenient update, followed by the readiness checks’ confirmation regarding the ability of a site to be updated, the service of automatic updates can then be applied. There is a possibility that a particular site or a hosting provider may offer additional DB handling options if required.  
  • Tarball-based installations are supported by this module and it doesn’t prefer some of the requirements for secure updating, rollback, etc that will be included under the core solution.
  • Contrib updates or composer-based site installations are not supported by this module. Work on composer integration is already started and is in progress. 

Understanding the phases of automatic updates 

The Automatic Updates is huge, as a result, the tasks are worked under phases. It consists of two phases that have different significant objectives. Below are the objectives of both phases.

Phase 1 Objectives

  • Facilitating a JSON feed of Drupal Public service announcements from Drupal.org.
  • Presenting  PSAs in the Drupal admin interface.
  • Availing an extensible update readiness check system.
  • Creating update packages from Drupal.org
  • Safeguarding the update packages with a signing system.
  • With roll-back, apply the updates either automatically or manually.

Phase 2 Objectives

  • Facilitating an A/B front-end controller for more robust testing/roll-back features
  • Provide support to contributed module automatic updates.
  • Giving support to composer-based site installations.

The most recent updates on Automatic updates initiatives were delivered in DrupalCon North America 2021. The keynotes and technical overview shared during the sessions talked about providing a secure system for automatic updates, lowering the cost of maintaining a Drupal site, and improving security. They also explained different areas where the new contributors can help as the initiative is still a work in progress. Check out sessions below:

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Conclusion

Drupal is taking a major responsibility in establishing a community where the users can take the maximum advantage in making their sites and software more secure and user friendly. There is a huge emphasis on community initiatives in Drupal. Therefore, strategic initiatives in Drupal are a practical step towards meeting the designed community goals and aspirations. Considered as one of the most significant initiatives, Automatic Updates allows users to encounter secure and suitable automatic updates for Drupal sites, encouraging everyone to opt for this leading open-source project.

Jul 03 2021
Jul 03

Drupal has scaled the heights of success through its community contributions and group collaborations. It additionally came up with some strategic initiatives that allowed its users to attain optimal benefits by securing their software and sites, making it user-friendly for all. One such primary initiative, Drupal 10 Readiness will be looked at closely in this article. 

How strategic initiatives significantly contribute to Drupal

Drupal majorly emphasizes implementing its numerous suggested strategic initiatives and endless innovation. The large architectural change in Drupal 8 and 9 that was brought by Drupal 7, is a good example of continuous innovation within the community. Dries Buytaert, the project lead and founder of the Drupal project believes that strategic initiatives play a significant role in the success of Drupal. After gaining support from community collaboration, these initiatives could produce exceptional developments driven by forces such as:

  • Market relevance was enhanced by improving editorial, developer, and customer experience. 
  • An idea of building an open-source digital platform experience.
  • Engaging with the core maintainers.
  • The opportunity of validation by community decisions and collaborations.
  • Usability studies and survey data availability.

Once these initiatives are suggested, they are put across to the planned initiative stage where every initiative is built up with plans and strategies in detail. After finishing this stage, the initiative finally moves towards the active initiatives stage. This is the process of how an initiative comes into place. To know more about how community initiatives are proposed and how strategic initiatives come about in Drupal, read here. Also, learn what’s happening with Decoupled menus initiative and Automatic updates initiative. Moving forward we will explore one of the most essential strategic initiatives of Drupal i.e. Drupal 10 Readiness which keeps us curious to know more about the future of Drupal 10. Before we move on, here's the complete guide on Drupal 9, the burning questions on Drupal 9, the Drupal 9 upgrade and migration particularsmust-have modules to start Drupal 9 project, configuration management strategies, and web development strategies that are specific to Drupal 9 project.

Familiarising with Drupal 10 Readiness

Illustration with a diagram describing Drupal 9 features that need to be updated before its end of lifeSource: Drupal.org

The Drupal 10 Readiness aims at providing an agenda to ensure that Drupal 10 gets released by 2022, also maintaining the security status along with keeping it up-to-date. This initiative provides the Drupal 10 roadmap and primarily focuses on:

  • To identify the tasks that are to be completed before the Drupal 10 release, emphasizing updating dependencies and eliminating deprecated APIs.
  • Support contributed module maintainers to move forward while also keeping modules updated. 
  • Plans to release Drupal 10 by the summer of 2022 or if not surely by December 22.

The Drupal 10 Readiness initiative was launched at the DrupalCon Global 2021 and has started putting down the plans into action. This further will help in ensuring the release of Drupal 10 in 2022 as per planned by the Drupal community. Although the exact Drupal 10 release date is yet not fixed, it is still planned to be released by June 2022. So, here are the Drupal 10 features. Take a quick look. 

Illustration showing multiple circles describing the Drupal 10 features proposed in Drupal 10 readiness initiative


Drupal 10 is built on Drupal 9. There is one major exception, the CKEditor 5 project is being built as a contributed module so that it can be easy to test it and also make it easier to collaborate upon. 

Both PHP 8 and Composer 2 support shipped in Drupal 9. Backporting of composer 2 was made to Drupal 8 but the same was not possible for PHP 8 compatibility. For Drupal 10, PHP 8 will be needed as PHP 7 to be ended by November 2022.

Symfony 5 is good but Symfony 6 will be better. Since Symfony 4, one of the two main drivers of the Drupal 10 timeline is to be ended by November 2022, so a plan has been made to be updated to Symfony 5.  The Symfony 5 compatibility issues are also resolved, which can be an added advantage. In the case of Drupal 10, Symfony 5 will be on the long-term supported 5.4 branches, which would "only" be security supported till November 2025, providing Drupal 10 a 2.5 year lifetime. The Drupal team is trying to update Symfony 6 at the same time, making an effort to resolve incompatibilities identified in Drupal 9. Since Symfony 6 development is not itself open yet, they are only able to work on things that are previously deprecated.

CKEditor 4 to 5 update needs more support. One of the motivations behind the Drupal 10 timeline is CKEditor 4 support lasting till 2023.  As of now, CKEditor 5 support is being worked on in a dedicated contributed module.  Drupal is actively collaborating with the CKSource team on runtime plugin support (Webpack DLLs), general HTML support (to avoid the loss of data while using CKEditor 5 on legacy content), etc. Some of the benefits of CKEditor 5 include optional collaborative editing functionality (using a paid server component).

Feedback needed for Starterkit theme prototype. It’s a Drupal-theming paradigm shift. Duplication can be avoided by inheriting from runtime base themes but at the same time, it can cause serious issues for innovation and make Drupal support old bugs not to break live sites. So, rather they try to provide built-in support for generating a theme in a core that is based on a prepared starterkit. 

The jQuery UI components have replacements prototyped, requiring reviews. All the jQuery UI components and numerous uses of Backbone. JS have replacements prototyped: dialog, toolbar, tabbing manager, autocomplete, tours, etc. They are in need of feedback. 

Internet Explorer 11 support to be dropped. An agreement is made to drop support for IE11 from Drupal 10. The official announcement will be made shortly. 

Some one-off feature modules might be removed. Drupal decided to deprecate the aggregator module in Drupal 9 and eradicate it in Drupal 10. There will be a removal of some other single-use core modules which lack momentum and maintainers. They are also taking the initiative to indicate individual module lifecycle states.

Now that we already know Drupal 10 is slated for a mid-2022 launch, more and more contributions will be paramount to the initiative’s success. Here are some recent updates on the initiatives shared in the DrupalCon Europe 2020 and DrupalCon North America 2021:

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Conclusion

Drupal strategic initiatives are constantly making an effort to escalate the productivity level of the community leading to remarkable expected results and outcomes. Drupal 10 Readiness is such a strategic initiative that depicts the future of Drupal 10 for which we all are excitedly waiting. So, this article was written to prepare you for Drupal 10 and help you get the proper insights into its significant functionality. Hope you are now ready for a Drupal upgrade.

Jun 24 2021
Jun 24

Technology has made our life super-fast and easy. Starting from shopping online to paying your bills, you can grab the world at your fingertips. But along with easy access through various applications, is technology providing you the necessary security? As security is considered a top priority that needs to be maintained due to the increase in cyber threats around the world. Unfortunately, vulnerability is seen in some of the organization's security ecosystem leading to the inability in building systematically secured software. Therefore, it is always advisable to build security in the initial stage so that no problems occur at the time of product deployment. There are various companies that do not have an approach of designing and building software based on core security principles required for the smooth functioning of applications. This article on secure software development lifecycle can be an eye-opener for all of us to emphasize the significance of building security into software development and make it the topmost priority.

The importance of security in software development

We all are aware of the fact that the information technology sector is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. It is observed that the rate at which software and software products are progressing is many times greater in comparison to the rate at which software security is progressing. As a result, it gives rise to cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Many companies have witnessed such harmful attacks leading to damage to their brand reputation. For example, in 2011, Sony Pictures experienced a SQL injection attack by LulzSec (the hack-group), which released around 1 million user accounts, including passwords, email addresses, home addresses, birth dates, etc., which as a result violated the privacy policy of their service. HBO was attacked in the year 2017 when a hacker released a screenplay episode of a very popular TV series that wasn’t still broadcasted. The hacker also got access to financial documents, contact lists of actors and film crew, and other confidential information. In the same year of 2017, personally identifying data of hundreds of millions of people was stolen from Equifax, one of the credit reporting agencies that assess the financial health of nearly everyone in the United States.

So, all these well-known companies never expected such malicious attacks which led to heavy financial and reputational losses at their businesses. This is the reason why software security is so important for building up secured software advantageous for both its developers and users. There is a need for a secure path to production. Thus software security helps in strengthening the security posture and avoid any future cyber attacks. 

How to enhance security in Software Development Life Cycle 

It is seen that many companies have a software development life cycle (SDLC) process which produces software with the highest quality in a much disciplined and systematic way. Due to rising software security threats, it is essential to integrate security into all the stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC) to make it a secure SDLC. It is beneficial for organizations to adopt a secure software development life cycle (SSDLC) approach to reduce cyberattacks and threats. The good thing about SSDLC approach is that it is not only restricted to developers or the security team. But it can also be easily adopted by cross-functional teams to enable better security over several stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC). There is a need for Secure software development lifecycle policy that helps in providing safer software production. Having a Secure software development lifecycle policy template can help in improving security during various phases of software development. Let’s now get a better understanding of what exactly is a secure software development life cycle (SSDLC) and its various phases. 

What is Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SSDLC)?

Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SSDLC) is a process of incorporating security into the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). It is basically, a framework defining the complete development process of a software product also building security in all the stages of SDLC i.e. starting from the planning to the design, development, testing, and deployment stage. There is a need to follow Secure software development lifecycle standards that can support the security of software production without any further concerns. 

Here we will discuss the various  types of Secure software development lifecycle phases. Take a look below. 

5 Phases of Secure Software Development Life Cycle
 

Illustration with a circle describing the 5 phases of secure software development lifecycle


Phase 1: Requirement Collection and Analysis

During this phase, security requirements for the software application are established. The key security risks within the application such as functionality, type of information application being used, etc. are examined by the security experts. This phase helps in ensuring technical feasibility and providing quality assurance.

Phase 2: Design

This phase helps in building security into the design of the software application. The technical architects and lead developers create high-level design choices that meet the necessary functional and security requirements. It is observed that half of the software defects that create security problems are introduced in this stage. Therefore, the designs are reviewed in this phase to detect the software defects and solve them at the earliest. 

Phase 3: Development

In this phase, it is ensured that code is developed securely so that no security threats and vulnerabilities occur. There are generally established secure coding guidelines and also code reviews that make sure that these guidelines have been followed correctly. The code reviews can be either manual or automated using technologies like static application security testing (SAST). 

Phase 4: Testing

It is very important to test applications and software before they are made accessible to the users. Once the development process is done, the applications and software go through a rigorous testing cycle to meet the set security standards. Such a testing process helps to minimize the number of bugs witnessed by users. The tests include penetration testing, integration testing, further static code analysis, dynamic analysis, etc. 

Phase 5: Deployment & Maintenance

In this phase, the application is made available to the user after finally checking all the security controls like secure code review (static analysis), dynamic, configuration, container security, etc. This is considered as the final stage after the applications and software go through the various phases of the Secure Software Development Life Cycle to improve the security aspect of software development.

The role of DevSecOps

Let me highlight here an important term DevSecOps which automates the integration of security at every phase of the software development lifecycle. It is necessary to understand the relationship between DevSecOps and SSDLC. Both the practices support each other in delivering the best services for enhancing security. They make sure that the developers are efficiently performing their tasks and going the extra mile to meet functional specifications apart from only spending time in writing and testing their code. DevSecOps represents a natural and essential evolution in the way companies approach security towards software development. It focuses on empowering the developers by giving them ownership of the production environment of applications from traditional IT teams. This further helps the developers to prioritize automating build, test, and release processes.

From the beginning of the development cycle, DevSecOps introduces security processes. The code is reviewed, audited, scanned, and tested for security issues throughout the development cycle. The issues are addressed at the earliest once they are identified. The DevSecOps practices also help in reducing time in resolving vulnerabilities and lessen the workload of the security team allowing them to prioritize other important tasks. 

“The purpose and intent of DevSecOps is to build on the mindset that everyone is responsible for security with the goal of safely distributing security decisions at speed and scale to those who hold the highest level of context without sacrificing the safety required,” describes Shannon Lietz, co-author of the “DevSecOps Manifesto.” More on DecSecOps here.

What SDLC model is proposed by OWASP

One more way to provide security is through the OWASP Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS) Project. This facilitates a basis for testing web application technical security controls, further providing the developers the list, necessary for secure development. During the SDLC cycle, OWASP provides security in the following ways.

The Planning or requirement stage

This particular process tries answering the following question, “What is the system going to do?” During this stage, the SAMM project provides 3 specific maturity levels including both in-house software development and third-party supplier security.

Illustration with a table divided into three sections describing the first stage of Secure Software Development lifecycle    Source: OWASP

This is the best way to provide security at the start of the Software development process.

Design Stage

After the requirements are gathered then the execution specifics should be described. This stage depicts a diagram tracing data flows and common system architecture. The threat modelling can be practiced in this stage for better security. The concept of threat modelling will be discussed shortly, in the following paragraphs. 

Development Stage

This step is very important as both the decisions and assumptions made in the previous stages will be examined. At this stage, the SAMM offers the following generic implementation considerations.

Illustration with a table divided into three sections describing the development stage of Secure Software Development lifecycleSource: OWASP

Testing Stage

This stage helps in validating software correctness and its an outcome for enhancing security-related decisions of all the other stages. Both manual and automated testing can be done in this stage. SAMM provides three maturity levels across Architecture Reviews, Requirements testing, and Security Testing.

Illustration with a table divided into three sections describing the testing stage of Secure Software Development lifecycleSource: OWASP

Release Stage

This is the final stage of the software development life cycle. The ModSecurity Core Rule Set is used efficiently to detect and block several attacks. In this, SAMM offers a section on incident management, where simple questions are asked to the stakeholders to help one determine incident preparedness appropriately. 

Illustration with a table divided into three sections describing the release stage of Secure Software Development lifecycleSource: OWASP

For better understanding, you can refer to a book named, “The Security Development Lifecycle: SDL: A Process for Developing Demonstrably More Secure Software (Developer Best Practices)” by Michael Howard and Steve Lipner.” This book mainly talks about the practical history of the SDL, and lessons to help you implement the SDL in any development organization. 

Secure software development lifecycle best practices

Now, I would like to discuss a few practices which are adopted during the early stages of the Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SSDLC) to improve security. Take a look below:

Threat Modelling

Threat modeling is a process that is carried out in the development phase to safeguard the software application from cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. This technique helps in understanding how an attacker makes targets, locates entry points, and conducts attacks which further allows the development team to build up strategies to protect software and applications from any such potential threats and damages. It should be performed in the early stages of the software development life cycle as this enables the organizations to integrate security requirements into the design and implementation procedure. The adoption of this practice reduces the workload of developers as the potential issues are identified at an early stage allowing them to not struggle between meeting the software delivery deadlines and deploying a secure product to the users. 

Architectural risk analysis

Architectural risk analysis is a technique that helps in identifying the threats and vulnerabilities during the design phase of the software development life cycle. This process includes the identification and evaluation of risks and risk impacts. It also helps in recommending risk-reducing measures. Architectural risk analysis studies threats and vulnerabilities that may be malicious or non-malicious in nature. With this process, the developers can analyze a software system from its component level to its environmental level to evaluate the threats and vulnerabilities at each level. 

Attack trees

Attack trees provide a procedure to examine security controls, strengthen them, and respond to changes in security. Security can be considered as an ongoing process and attack trees are the basis of understanding the security process. Through a graphical representation that is easily understandable, the attack trees help to recognize the various ways in which an information system can be attacked and build countermeasures to prevent such attacks. Since this approach is used to design, implement and measure the attack, it can be considered as a practice conducted in the design phase of the SDLC.

Secure software development lifecycle training to developers 

It is important for the developers to receive proper training on developing secure software and applications. The organizations can support the developers to build software applications while maintaining the security aspect with the following easy practices.

Providing practical experience. It will be beneficial to give practical examples which will encourage the developers to experience real-life scenarios rather than mere theoretical knowledge in terms of security training.

Availability of relevant courses. It will interest the developers to learn from examples and case studies matching the technology and platforms that they are currently using. This will make them learn things better and in a much more convenient way.

Guidance through online training. Through e-learning courses, the developers get to participate in security training according to their convenient time. It gives a good opportunity to learn complex material which can be reviewed by the developers whenever they want. 

Incentives facility. The developers can be motivated by offering incentives after every course or series of courses. 

Adopting open source is a great way of making sure security at all stages of software development. To know more, read the complete guide on open source security. To see an example, learn how you can incorporate secure SDLC in Drupal development.

Endnote

As we all know that security is an ever-evolving process. Therefore, a progressive organization cannot survive without getting serious about security, and the most convenient way to get serious is to integrate a secure software development life cycle into their work. Starting from requirements to design, coding to test, and finally till deployment of products the SSDLC tries to build security into a software product or an application at every step in the development process. Even though every organization will have its methodology to support software security, the approach should be effective in nature.

Jun 16 2021
Jun 16

Enterprise agility is one of the most commonly adopted transformation approaches which comes up along with a lot of challenges. The companies need to reshape the organizational structures, make changes in the operational models and reform the old ways of working techniques. The agile transformation includes a big shift in organizational culture and that makes an organization ponder over it or even neglect it. But eventually, organizations realize the importance of it, apply agile transformation techniques, and receive immense benefits that help them evolve and move closer towards their goals and aspirations. This article will guide you through the right approach needed towards adopting the agile transformation in your organization. 

To successfully adopt an agile transformation, you need a plan

To succeed with the agile transformation, you need to clearly understand the fact that why are you making such time and effort to adopt this transformation and what exactly you want to gain from it. It is important to have clarity upon what changes you will have to make so that the desired outcomes can be achieved by your business. For this let’s firstly, understand the importance of preparing a proper business case for adopting agile transformation at your organization. It is important to convince the decision-makers to realize the significance of approaching agility in the work culture with the right business case. Before that, go through what agile development methodology actually means.

Making business case for agile transformation

A business case explains the main objectives of the organization in regards to agile transformation. Generally, adopting agile leads to desired business outcomes but only if it is approached in the right manner. Therefore, it is essential to have some set important goals which will help in the overall growth of the company with agility. Here is an insight into the recommended goals.

Illustration showing multiple arrows forming a circle to explain agile transformation

The first and foremost goal is to meet customer commitments on time. It helps in building trust between customers and the company leading to customer satisfaction. Secondly, it is essential to maintain high-quality products and services as at times companies fail to deliver suitable services as promised to the customers. This further helps in building a good brand reputation for the company. Thirdly, one of the aims of adopting agility in an enterprise is to efficiently reduce their costs and maximize profits. Lastly, the companies expect an early return on investment with agility as by practicing traditional working methods they struggle with long delivery cycles which do not allow them to receive early return on investment. Read this complete guide on agile transformation to know more.

Now, we will get an overview of the transformation hypothesis to help us approach agility in the right way.

A step closer to agility with Transformation Hypothesis

A Transformation Hypothesis describes the real purpose behind choosing agile transformation. Along with accepting agility, companies have to be flexible enough to embrace change in various working techniques. But sometimes it might not sound comfortable for the employees as they are accustomed to working with the same old traditional techniques. So, in situations where employees aren’t confident enough and are faced with certain challenges, the companies should proactively help them to overcome such difficulties and welcome change. Below are some of the concerns which need to be resolved to strongly practice agility in your organization.

Picture showing multiple circles to describe the concerns that are faced while practicing enterprise agility

Culture change isn’t the only solution 

It is observed that adopting agility brings a big shift in the work culture of an organization, so we assume that the culture change alone will look after all the necessary steps and efforts required to successfully implement such a transformation within the company. But in reality, it isn’t so. There is also a need for proper guidance in forming cross-functional teams which have various functional expertise to increase innovation in products and services. To succeed with agility, the company will have to look upon various factors, apart from considering culture as the only means to improve agility.  

Process training alone cannot bring agility

We get to see that employees are given training from coaches to learn new methods and techniques, also expecting them to be capable enough to face any challenges which they witness while practicing agility. But the problem here is, it is nearly impossible to handle technical, governance, and organizational issues by employees with the process education obtained during the training sessions. Such issues need to be resolved by providing essential support to the company employees to tackle such hard situations.

Need for a right ecosystem

To reach the desired level of agility, there is a need for an ecosystem that facilitates continuous improvement to achieve a company’s agility goals and objectives. If a company fails to build the right ecosystem, it will be challenging to sustain agility in an organization for better adaptability and resilience.

Strategize plans according to the size of the organization

One has to strategize plans depending on the size of the organization to sustain agility. For example, the strategy which you will use for transforming a single team will certainly differ from the strategy you plan for a large-sized company having 500 or more employees. In the same manner, if you are leading a group of five to seven people, sending them to training sessions might be sufficient. But if you lead 1000 employees, the planning and arrangement must be executed on a much different level. So, it justifies the fact that the size of the organization is to be considered while adopting agility.

Overcome the challenge of dependency 

Dependencies can bring hurdles in successfully attaining agility in organizations. When we have small teams, it is easier to manage dependencies but if we have multiple teams working towards the same goal, it becomes very difficult to handle inter-team communication and collaboration. So, removing dependencies shall be one of the primary tasks. For smooth delivery of products and services, it is very essential to strategize plans to overcome dependencies and develop agility in an organization.

Benefits achieved by adopting agile transformation

Many organizations have received benefits from practicing agile transformation in recent years. They need to put the right agile transformation approach to attain the desired business outcomes with this transformation. The agility in enterprises allows flexibility to adapt new organizational practices and techniques leading to maximization of business value. 

Moving forward, we will discuss some of the benefits which are attained by companies adopting agile transformation in their business. 

Picture formed by various circles describing the benefits of agile transformation

Maximise customer satisfaction

With agility, companies mainly focus on adding value to the customer experience by understanding their requirements and making early delivery of products and services. It helps in evolving customer satisfaction by prioritizing customer feedback to improve the product quality as per their expectations. Enterprise agility allows employees to provide services with expertise, proper collaboration among various teams, and transparency which leads to an increase in customer satisfaction.

Here is an example of Asia Pacific Telco, which adopted an agile operating model to meet customer needs and was successful in increasing customer satisfaction by implementing new ideas and techniques into their work process. Below is the diagram showing the transformation shift towards a positive direction leading to a great customer experience.

Illustration showing triangles formed by small circles to explain benefits of agile transformationSource: McKinsey & Company

Increase employee engagement

Adopting agility facilitates employees the ability to use their creativity to produce better work performance and results. It gives them a sense of ownership to take all the necessary decisions to improve their work productivity and help them feel valued in the workplace. Such flexibility helps in increasing employee engagement to a great extent also empowering companies to reach their desired goals and ambitions. For instance, read how you can build a diverse and inclusive team by leveraging agile techniques.

Raising operational performance

Agility helps in providing various business models to the organizations which further helps in improving the operational performance according to the desired expectations. Due to this agile transformation, the companies are availed with various approaches which help in increasing the speed of company decision making and product development. The target achievement rate can be seen improving remarkably, by the agile companies which prove to be one of the major achievements of a progressing enterprise. 

Growing competence towards changing priorities 

With agility, a behavioral transformation takes place among the employees to reach their highest potential in embracing change and innovation. They learn to handle the changing priorities within the organization in the form of resources re-location to a team who needs support and assistance to survive the challenges which come along with agility. They get comfortable with the changes that take place in their work process and techniques, accepting change for better company growth. 

Enhance project visibility

Project visibility provides a clear vision of a project performance which includes allocating resources, potential risks, and proper distribution of responsibilities. Increased visibility ensures everyone involved in the project understands the objective of the project and their role in meeting the business goals and aspirations. It gives clarity to stakeholders regarding the real-time status of the project. Agility helps in changing any project plan or initiative following customer or stakeholder needs and requirements for better project performance. For instance, read how imbibing agile documentation processes helps improve project management.

Improving Business and IT alignment

Business IT alignment can be regarded as a business strategy that helps in achieving the business objectives leading to improved financial performance. This alignment is necessary to adapt to the constant change in the company and environment due to agility. Therefore, both business agility and business-IT alignment should go hand in hand to maintain company growth and development. For instance, read how the inclusion of agile processes to the testing phases of software development can be immensely beneficial.

Lastly, the most important benefit which we witnessed recently by adopting the agile transformation is the flexibility of working at our convenience during the pandemic of COVID 19. Due to this pandemic, the organizations felt the need for agile transformation rather than sticking to the old traditional transformation techniques which created hurdles in the proper functioning of their business. According to McKinsey’s research with Harvard Business School during COVID-19, agile companies have received better results in comparison to non-agile companies.

Graphical representation of the agile companies' improving performance post COVID 19 crisisSource: McKinsey & Company

Companies sharing their successful journeys with agile transformation

With agility, many organizations have achieved immense success leading their business towards their set goals. Here are some of the companies sharing their success stories which can act as a motivation for everyone to move towards agile transformation. 

Ericsson

Ericsson aimed at improving the delivery of products within the stipulated time leading to an increase in customer satisfaction. To achieve this target, they adopted agility in 2008. They implemented cross-functional teams which could focus on specific projects along with building effective communication across several teams. Instead of individual targets, each team worked towards both organizational and group goals to receive desired results. After making such changes with the help of agile transformation, Ericsson could successfully achieve speedy development, faster customer feedback, and generate higher revenue according to desired company standards. 

Bank of America

In late 2012, the agile transformation in global markets at Bank of America began. Merrill Lynch, the director of global markets technology at the Bank of America expressed that their main aim was to improve the time to deliver better company solutions and also reduce key person dependencies across his technology team. They adopted Scrum (a specific Agile methodology) also providing an environment to the employees where they could experiment by taking risks to bring exceptional work results. The cross-functional team formation too was encouraged to turn business ideas into working products for achieving company targets. After a year of consistent efforts, they finally succeeded in meeting their business goals with agility.

LEGO 

LEGO attained success by adopting agile transformation in early 2018. They adopted this approach in their two large digital departments. After such adoption, they witnessed various improvements in several areas like market engagement, digitalization, and reduction in project delivery time. This further brought a sense of motivation and satisfaction among the employees. So, with this transformation, LEGO could set a successful journey of embracing change. 

To get more insight on a company's smooth agile transformation, you can go through this book-   “Agile Transformation: A Brief Story of How an Entertainment Company Developed New Capabilities and Unlocked Business Agility to Thrive in an Era of Rapid Change” which will give you an idea about a company in the entertainment industry who got excellent results by adopting agility in its work culture. This will be a good read.

Here is a video presented by Scrum Alliance about IBM’s wonderful experience of learning, implementing, and overcoming challenges with agile transformation. Without any further wait, take a look at their exciting agile transformation journey.

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Final thoughts

Agility is an approach to drive performance and provide endless innovation to organizations. Adopting this transformation can break the old traditional working methods enabling to achieve tremendous growth and advancement in business. So, the organizations will have to step out of their comfort and strive for something new which can deliver exceptional business outcomes.

Jun 15 2021
Jun 15

Imagine you created something and that something is a software. You wanted your creation to be used by as many people as possible, you wanted to make it universally accessible. So, you did just that, you made the software source code accessible so that anyone could inspect it, modify it and enhance its capabilities.

This is the scenario that makes an open source software what it is; a publicly accessible tool that is all for the community. It honours open exchanges, collaborations, transparency and perpetual development that is community-centric. These principles have made open source software become immensely popular today. And here is proof of that. 

The percentage of active public repositories that use OSS is shown through a graph.Source: Github

Many of the public repositories, like PHP, Java and .NET, use open source software and in heavy numbers. If we look at the revenue open source software is deriving, the numbers are again quite impressive.

The projected revenue of open source services can be seen in a graph.Source: Statista 

All these numbers speak volumes to the efficiency of open source software. However, if there is one aspect of open source software that needs some kind of assurance, I’d say it’s open source security. The reason is probably the fact that OSS is completely open for everyone, so it is assumed that something with this level of openness cannot be secure. 

In this blog, we’ll try to find an answer to the question, ‘what is open source security’ and see whether it is actually secure or not.

What Is Open Source Security?

Today, businesses try to leverage multiple software in their efforts to move forward in technology and open source is one software that is omnipresent in these efforts, be it just for its code. 

A graph shows an increase in the use of open source components per app.Source: Synopsys

The reasons for this elevated usage of open source components are plenty. 

The fact that you get to try the software before you buy it; 
The fact that support is free; 
The fact that there would be fewer bugs to deal with and faster fixes; 
The fact that software security would improve; 

To know more about the power of open source, read about the perks of being an open source contributor, leadership in open source, why are large enterprises investing in open source, why is open source recession-free, impact of open source during Covid-19 pandemic, and the significance of diversity, equity and inclusion in open source.

All of these account for open source to become a software that is quite pleasing to the eye. The last point that I mentioned may be the most pleasing factor of them all. But why? What is open source security? Is open source insecure? Let’s understand just that.

Like any other software out there, the OSS also goes through two main stages, the development and the production. And open source security works in both of them, managing and securing the OSS at all times by using certain tools and processes; all of this usually done through automation. 

Talking about the Software Development Lifecycle, open source security has three main responsibilities;  

  • It identifies open source dependencies in your applications; 
  • It provides critical versioning and usage information; 
  • And it detects and warns about any policy violations and its consequent risks. 

Moving on to the production phase, open source security continues to work diligently. Its main duties at this point are to focus on any and all open source vulnerabilities. It does so by; 

  • Monitoring vulnerability attacks; 
  • Blocking vulnerability attacks, if possible; 
  • And most importantly, alerting you for the same, thus making you ready to take action against them.

Be it a community driven open source or a commercial one, open source security works in much the same way. 

Delving a little deeper in open source security, is there an initiative or a body that is accountable for it. This was one question that I found myself asking while researching about this piece. And there is, it is The Open Source Security Foundation. It helps organisations relying on open source software to understand their responsibilities in terms of user and organisational security and verify it. 

The initiative focuses on aspects like vulnerability disclosure, security tooling and best practices, identification of threats and even digital identity attestation. All of these only aid in securing your projects, critical and otherwise, in a much better and efficient manner.

Is Open Source Good for Security?

The answer to the question ‘How does open source security work?’ is not a linear one. But if I had to answer it, I’d say open source security is nothing at all like Microsoft, which should provide a lot of clarity to you and instill a sense of faith in OSS.

According to Snyk’s The State of Open Source Security 2020 report, 

Open source ecosystems have expanded by a third in 2019; 
Open source security culture is focusing on shared responsibility; 
Open source vulnerabilities have reduced by a fifth.

A survey analysis is shown that depicts who the respondents thought was responsible for open source security.Source: Snyk

On top of this, the vulnerabilities that were found in open source as most reported weren’t high impact on software projects. 

These facts were enough for me to believe in the capability of open source security. However, for you, I am going to provide four more reasons.

Security that is transparent

The main benefit of open source security is that it is transparent. What I mean by transparent is that its source code is open. You can get information about the code base and potential bugs.

People can sift through the source code of any open source project and improve any imperfections, which would not have been possible if the source code wasn’t open. This further means that there won’t be any surprises as the chances of any malicious functionality would be quite slim with this level of scrutiny. 

Security that is reliable 

This advantage is relatable to the previous one. OSS openness has made it possible for its code to be continually tested. 

The online community, which is responsible for developing the code, is behind these tests, making the software more reliable and trusted. The software developed on such trust would most likely never crash and fail.

Security that provides quick catches and fixes 

After transparency and reliance comes the benefit of quick fixes. The open source community is again to be thanked for this. The many contributors of open source make it possible to detect any bugs and flaws and quickly patch and fix them, without any elongated downtime for your applications. 

Security that is sustainable 

Open source software isn’t going to go anywhere and would open source security become antiquated. The reason would be its growing community that would continue to expand indefinitely. Therefore, the platform would continue to improve and you would have the assurance of better security means as time continues to move ahead.

At the heart of every benefit of open source security is its openness and community. Is open source a security risk? Not really. Is it a full-proof solution? Again not really. Yes, open source security cannot provide you the guarantee of being full-proof at all times, but the fact that the open source security at least provides a better chance of being secure is enough to make it advantageous for us; after all, are there really any guarantees in life?

Are There Challenges That You Need To Overcome?

Moving on from the pretty picture of open source security, let’s focus on the dark side of the concept. Open source security isn’t always full of the joys of spring, there are certainly challenges that need to be overcome. Since open source has become prevalent in every business sector, so have the open source security vulnerabilities. 

The percentage of open source vulnerabilities in different business sectors are shown.Open source vulnerabilities by business sectors | Source: Synopsys

Ironically, most of the challenges coincide with the openness of an OSS, so the benefits become the drawbacks. Let’s take a look at them.

The openness isn’t without vulnerabilities

Much like any software out there, open source also comes with some vulnerabilities. Yes, the open source community aids in the remediation of these flaws, but they tend to widen the difference between open source safety and open source attacks.

A table elucidates OSS vulnerabilities.Vulnerabilities reported in OSS | Source: WhiteSource Software  

Yes, open source security issues come with their fair share of vulnerabilities, from XSS to information exposure, there is everything and these vulnerabilities keep on changing year after year. 

However, there is a silver lining in this challenge and that is the impact of these vulnerabilities. 

A graph reports open source vulnerabilities and the number of businesses they have impacted.Source: Snyk

XSS is one of the most reported vulnerabilities, however, it only impacts a low number of projects. This can be considered as a positive outcome of this particular challenge.

The openness lures attackers

The OSS code is open for everyone and so its vulnerabilities; and we certainly know that everyone includes people with malicious intent as well. So, open source vulnerabilities become an easy target for attackers.

The National Vulnerability Database, which is a platform providing information about the open source vulnerabilities that too publicly isn’t helping this challenge much. Don’t get me wrong, such platforms are indeed helpful in identifying the problems, but considering they are public and open, the attackers get their arsenal for the next target.

You may think that the known vulnerabilities should get fixed before the attackers are lured in by them. But that is easier said than done. The problem here is that the open source vulnerabilities are published at multiple platforms, thus tracking them becomes difficult. Even if they have been located, updating, patching or fixing can require some time and during that phase, you’d be at risk.

The openness might overlook quality 

There are a number of people who contribute to open source security and you cannot be sure that all of them would be security experts. Everyone in the community will not have the same level of skills and expertise. Therefore, the way they would create a piece of code would be different. This makes quality assurance a task that could almost be impossible to take on. Furthermore, the fact that there are no set standards for the quality of open source code makes it all more convenient to overlook quality.. 
 
All of this means that the quality might be overlooked and even compromised. The fact that only 8% of the WhiteSource survey respondents were concerned about the quality is a testament to this challenge.

The openness comes with licensing risks 

OSS may be free to use, but it does come with a number of licenses that need compliance; 110 licenses to be exact, according to the Open Source Initiative. These act as the guidelines for OSS source to be used.

With these many licenses, there is bound to be a risk of compatibility. Let’s understand this, some licenses are compatible, this means you can use them together. However, some aren’t, which means that using them together would put you at risk, like the Apache 2.0 and GPL v2 license.

What’s more is that, if you do not comply with the licensing guidelines of open source, you’d be making yourself open to a lawsuit. While I know this isn’t the kind of security concern we've been talking about so far, it is a security concern all the same.

Can You Overcome the Security Challenges?

The major challenge in open source security are the vulnerabilities. Detecting them and resolving them has to be the priority, if you want to overcome the challenges. Given the fact that open source vulnerabilities have risen in 2020, you need to be sure that you are not at an elevated level of risk.

A bar graph shows open source security vulnerabilities from 2009 to 2020.Source: WhiteSource Software 

Let’s see how these vulnerabilities can be caught in time, so that they do not affect your business by implementing some of these open source best practices.

Prioritising security, always 

The first part in overcoming open source vulnerabilities is to always prioritise security. This starts with the choice, whenever you choose an open source component to work with, security has to be one of the considerations in the choice. 

Usually, functionality comes as the main reason for choosing an OSS. However, just focusing on that can put you at a disadvantage. Think of it this way, an open source component that does not require any integrations with your codebase would remove any and all security risks, along with reducing the complexity of your source code.

Prioritising automation as a means to detect and monitor vulnerabilities 

Next comes the detection of the security vulnerabilities and automation comes quite handy here. Organisations, especially large ones, have a pretty massive codebase and going through it would be a mammoth task, if not automated. Detecting susceptibilities is already quite a lengthy process, even with automation.

You have to identify which packages are being used; 
You have to pinpoint the vulnerable functionality in your code; 
You have to map out the way that particular vulnerability is impacting; 
And then you have to work on rectifying the findings.

Such a process may only include four steps, however, it isn’t a trivial task.

One of the problems in overcoming the vulnerability challenge is that organisations, sometimes, have no clue that they are actually susceptible. The fact that the open source community has an extensive amount of data means that the vulnerabilities would be spread across that expansiveness. So, running automated scans for identifying vulnerabilities would never let them go unidentified.

Taking help of automation tools would not only help you get to the problem areas faster, but also keep doing it continuously. When you enforce automated tools to continually monitor security problems, you come closer to protecting your project and taking control over the open source components you are using.

Prioritising the involvement of the team in security

The last point to cover in order to overcome the open source challenges involves your team. There is a high likelihood that your developers would not be experts in security. And the people you may have in security would be lost in the developers’ realm. Since open source vulnerabilities require you to be efficient at both development and security, there has to be some training involved.

The ways to track open source dependencies are shown.Source: Snyk

Such a response for detecting open source dependencies is not ideal. So, aim for cross training your staff, the developers should be able to at least identify certain security vulnerabilities and the security team should have some understanding of the development process. 

If you think that isn’t a possibility, you can hire outside help to assist you in overcoming the challenges posed by the open source components. 

The Verdict 

OSS is on the rise and it will continue to grow in the future, there isn't any doubt about it. Along with that open source security will also strive to improve. Yes, there are issues that surround open source security, it isn’t perfect. I think that’s a good thing, because perfection cannot be improved upon and that means open source security has a lot of strides to make. 

Open source security operates on visibility and openness, and it also teaches its adoptive organisations to preach the same. Aiming for visibility in your source code would always keep you ahead of the vulnerabilities you might have. It would also provide you with knowledge of your dependencies and a clear understanding of your code. 

So, in that sense, open source software would be a great low cost addition to your project and open source security isn’t something that would ever hold you back. With the amount of open source security tools available today, that’s almost a guarantee.

Jun 11 2021
Jun 11

Is it possible for us to finish everything we start? Is it possible for us to achieve every milestone that we set for ourselves and stick to every new year’s resolution we make? In a perfect world it would be, but sadly we do not live in a perfect world. 

And it’s not necessarily a bad thing to take a step back from a project you know you won’t be able to finish. I started painting my room when the pandemic began as a way to waive off the boredom, and half-way through I realised painting wasn’t for me. It was too exhausting and I wasn’t even good at it and most importantly it made me lose focus from my actual paying job. You can write a lot when you have paint all over your work desk, trust me. 

So, these unfinished projects have to be taken on by someone else, right? You can’t leave the room half painted, that would be a look the 21st century isn’t ready for. So what happens? Do you hand over the paint and the brush to the person taking over and forget about it? Not exactly. 

There are a whole bunch of things that you have to relay during the handover and keep a diligent eye on the new person to ensure that he is taking the project into the desired direction. You have to have the room painted as you had initially planned, you can’t expect a subtle lavender theme to turn out to be a neon orange at the end; that’d be a catastrophe of the highest order.

Now, we won’t be talking about painting rooms throughout this article. No, what we will be talking about is the way project managers handover business projects that are work-in-progress. What are aspects they focus on during the transition of duties, so that they do not affect the project’s completion? And does the transfer actually become fruitful for the project? Finally, I’ll share some instances from OpenSense Labs, wherein our project manager had to handover a project. So, let’s start.

The Handover Begins With Knowing the Company

If we look at project handovers, there are two scenarios that basically decide how much work it is going to take from the project manager himself. 

  • One of them is when a project is being transferred to a PM who is already a part of the organisation. 
  • And second is when a new project manager is hired within the organisation to take over an already in-progress project.

The first step we are going to discuss isn’t really necessary for the first scenario, but quite crucial for the second. And that is the knowledge of the company, its mission, its way-of-conduct and its overall cultural dimension.

Someone who has been a part of the organisation, even if it is for a little while, would already be familiar with it; however transferring project ownership to someone new would have to go through an acclimation process and that is what this step of project ownership transfer is all about.

Why is this acclimation important?

Because it provides perspective 

Being familiar with the organisation’s vision gives a perspective on things for the PM that he otherwise may not get. This perspective is important for things to sail smoothly throughout the remaining life of the project since it’d provide you with a purpose along with an overview.

Because it helps in communication 

Every organisation has its own culture. At OpenSense Labs, we follow the opposite of a traditional work culture with stringent rules and regulations that limit the scope of projects and employees. Liberty, openness and equality are some adjectives that would describe OSL’s office regime. This culture is directly related to how communications go down the hierarchy. Being familiar with it helps new PMs to fit in with the team and take things forward in a way it is used to.

Because it helps in decision making 

When you study the company you are going to take a project from, it would help you make better and more informed decisions without any disruptions.

A table is comparing a company's local process to global processes.Source: Toptal

The above image talks about some of the daily decisions a PM has to make, and knowing how to make them would make his/her work a lot easier.

Familiarising Yourself With the Nuances of the Actual Project Is Next

Now, you know the company, but do you know the project and what place it has in the company’s revenue stream? Knowing that is the next stage of project ownership transfer. This is also referred to as the knowledge transfer or at least its beginning.

Your organisation is going to have a number of projects running at all times, they could be about helping small entrepreneurs become more successful, however, all of these projects cannot be at an equal level of prominence. Some would be high priority and some would be on low. Identifying the significance of your project is what you would need to do first.

Once you have done that, you can start looking at your own project with a fine tooth comb. You would need to know everything about it to ensure that the outcome is what is expected. Start with the generic nature of the project. 

What is the project type, in-house or external?
What does the target audience look like?
What is the marketing strategy?
What are the competitors providing?

An answer to all of these questions will help you get a better understanding of the project. When you have that, then you have to dig deeper into the transition and learn about the change, everything preceding it and everything that has to follow.

What kind of progress has been made in the project?
Which aspects of the project are outstanding?
What tools and processes were being followed?
What are the restrictions and blockers holding that project back?

These questions are extremely important to ask as they would help you in knowing the deadlines and reaching them on time. Being familiar with all the issues hindering the project completion, be it about the team or client communication, won’t let you get blindsided, which can happen after a takeover.

Then You Get Acquainted With the Stakeholders and the Team 

In every project transfer, there are people who play a significant role in its completion. These are the people who are essentially responsible for all the work that goes into the project and its consequent success. As the new project manager, you ought to become acquainted with them from the very first day of the ownership transition because acclimating to people is the most difficult task of any process.

The Stakeholders

Starting with the stakeholders, these people are the ones who are going to directly benefit from the success of the in-progress project. It can be the client and his organisation and it can be people within your organisation, if it’s an in-house project affecting them.

Talking about the client, the focus is to make him comfortable with you and you being comfortable with him. During the entire transition, the client has to be kept in loop. Even if the previous PM had been fired, the client has the right to know. 

At OSL, we introduce the new PM to the client in phases. After some time, the new PM is involved more by making him prepare meeting agendas and answering client questions.

At OSL, we introduce the new PM to the client in phases. We ensure that once the former introduction has been completed, the new PM is always present in client calls even if he/she is not contributing anything. Even without the contributions, they’d be learning and that is what the transition is all about. After some time, the interaction is made more frequent and the new PM is involved more by making him prepare meeting agendas and answering client questions. During this time, the old PM is always there to handle any mishaps. Once those mishaps are no longer happening, it means the comfort is achieved and the new PM is given the command.

For an in-house project, the stakeholders would be the people using the end-product. Because they need it they’ll become your project’s advocates and in turn yours too. You have to capitalise on that. You should make yourself acquainted with them and get their feedback on the project you are delivering by testing an early version of the project on them as an option. 

Every stakeholder of the project would always want it to be successful and it is up to you to get them involved to improve your chances of success.

The Team 

Then come the people whom you would complete the project with. There are three things you have to be mindful of. 

  • One is the team’s structure and hierarchy, if there is any. You should know how they operate and what is the working dimension, remote or co-located or both. 
  • Second is to dig a little history and know about any grievances they might have had with the previous manager or even among themselves.
  • Finally, you need to know whether the team you have is of the right size, you could be understaffed or overstaffed.

These help you become one of them and make everyone feel included by eliminating any kind of friction between you and them. Having the old PM with you during the transition can help make the acquaintance process go by faster because you’d know the kind of authority and system the team is used to making the transition easier for them. Of course, if the PM has already been fired or there was no PM at all, it might be a possibility.

Understand how human psychology works in the project management here.

Knowing Exactly What Is Required of You 

Now comes the part you will play in the project. Of course, you are going to be handling it, but where would you start delivering?

Here the first important thing to know is the reason you are taking over. The previous manager could have left the organisation or he could have been made to leave. The former scenario doesn’t really have any relation to the project itself, but the latter could and you ought to know that. If a PM was removed or fired, there has to be a reason, right? He may not have done the job in the appropriate manner or he may have mismanaged the project and even the team, whatever the case, learn about it and start rectifying from the get go. Trust me that is the first plan of action expected from you.

You can only do that once you know what exactly the role of a PM is in the organisation. By this, I mean a few things.

  • You need to be aware of the way you are going the handle the client and the team;
  • You need to be aware of the extent of your duties and whether they go beyond the scales of the project;
  • You need to be aware of the procurement process as well as vendor selection as you may have to do it at some point;
  • You also need to be aware of the way your performance is going to be evaluated, how and who is going to review it.

A knowledge of all these aspects will only help you perform your duties better and get the project completed without any impediments.

Read our blog ‘Feature Prioritisation in Projects: How It's Done Right?’ to know more about project management and the feature prioritisation that goes in it.

The Final Handoff 

The above mentioned project handover necessities actually sum up the entire process and usually most of it is mentioned in the handover plan or document, which the old PM goes over with the new PM in due diligence. 

And it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes from a couple of weeks to a month, the gradual nature of the handover is what makes it fruitful for the project. Taking a few steps a day by breaking the transition into pieces that are easy to comprehend at a time is essential. Another aspect that is essential is you being shadowed, be it by the old PM or the team, that is what’ll help you learn the ropes faster.

You wouldn’t take the reins at once, it would come in increments of each step we discussed. 
You won’t be expected to answer the client worries from the get go;
You won’t have to deal with the developers from day 1;
You wouldn’t be expected to make a low performing project turn around at once. 

Everything would happen gradually. Once you have the apprehension of the company’s vision, the project itself, the stakeholders and the team along with everything that is expected of you, you’ll be ready to wear the PM hat and take the project on yourself. And the final handoff would be complete.

The Other Side of the Handover: OSL Handover Manual  

OpenSense Labs have successfully completed many projects in its life, however, sometimes these projects have been the rewards of more than a single project manager. There isn’t a particular reason for that. Sometimes the project manager had to hand over their work because he was leaving the organisation and sometimes it was because he was overburdened and couldn’t give his complete attention to the project. 

While researching this blog I talked to two of our project managers, Yash Marwaha and Abhijeet Sinha, to get a better understanding of project handover. Project handovers are a two way street, up until now we have discussed the side of the PM who will take the project forward, now let’s look at the other side and delve into the project transferer’s perspective.

Yash and His Handover Precision 

Yash is all precision and accuracy with a set system to make the handover as smooth as possible. The first thing he does is identify the type of project, which could be a long term engagement or support and maintenance. For him, this identification decides the timeline of the transition.

The steps that he follows usually go like this.

  • Creating a handover document and going over it with the new PM; 
  • Informing the client; 
  • Planning induction sessions with a handson walkthrough; 
  • Introducing the new PM to the client; 
  • Being available on calls between the new PM and the client until a comfort level is reached;
  • Finally changing the ownership when that happens.

This is a great system to follow for a handover, yet Yash has had to take over a project even after the handover has been completed. The reason was the new PM not being comfortable with the client. Even after doing everything by the book, things can still not go as smoothly as you may have wanted. You cannot control all the variables, let’s learn that from Yash.

Abhijeet and His Handover Diligence 

While Abhijeet follows much the same steps as Yash, he doesn’t focus too much on the time, rather he focuses on diligence. What I mean is he doesn’t feel that a handover has to be confined to a specific timeline. A similar project could have been handed over in a week, but that doesn’t mean that the current ownership would go the same way. For him, when you rush things, diligence goes out the window and chaos ensues.

He has two project transfers to prove his point. 

  • He had to hand over a project, redressal of a major tourism website in Kansas City, to Yash. The handover happened within 3-4 days, pretty quick, right? The reason was that Yash was already in contact with the client making the transition as smooth as smooth could be.
  • Then there was Earth Journalism, wherein an all new PM had to be assigned the ownership. He kept her in the loop for the client and the developers. He helped in removing the friction between the new PM and the developers, which happens in every transition, at the same time he ensured that she knew the contextual needs of the project. This transition took about a month. Learn more about the work done on Earth Journalism Network by OpenSense Labs here.

Project transfers can be a tricky business. There are a lot of parties involved and all may not welcome the change. As the project transferer, you have to be patient with everyone. You have to ensure that everyone involved is in favour of the new person, if not the final handover would not be the end of it. 

There is another thing that the OSL team shared with me and that is never ever transfer ownership of a three-month project mid-way. If you are to do it, do it in the beginning itself. There is no point in bringing a new PM after two months, it’s not going to benefit anyone.

Whether you are taking up a new project or getting a handover of an ongoing one, learning through Drupal website projects can be very handy. Learn what are the infinity stones of Drupal development, how to start the Drupal project the right way, how to manage your development workflow for Drupal project, and why product mindset should be preferred over project mindset.

Conclusion

In the end, all I want to say is that people have a tendency to take time to learn things and perform them in an efficient manner. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? So, what needs to be done during a project handover is valuing the learning curve. It’s going to take time and patience to make it fly. The kind of details an on-going project can have are quite diverse and making the new project manager get a hang of them is what matters. And that requires time from the organisation given to the new PM and his efforts in making that time worth it. 

May 28 2021
May 28

Malcom Forbes, the publisher of Forbes Magazine once said, “Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.” This quote gives us a very strong message that diversity in ideas and opinions can work for the benefit of the society at large. So, when we talk about diversity in open source, we get to see a similar scenario, where people are encouraged regardless of their gender, race, age, class or nationality to express their ideas, innovations and skill sets in a single platform to enhance better performance and results in their respective careers. 

Here, I would like to draw your attention towards some of the insights of this vast topic i.e. diversity in open source. With the help of this article, I would like to give you an idea about the community contribution towards open source followed by the various challenges encountered by the community in building a platform welcoming diversity.

Let’s begin by discussing the important role of community in open source.

Power of Community in Open Source

Open source gives you the opportunity to bring up your unique ideas and innovations independently in front of the whole world. You get full freedom to share your skills regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, exceptionalities or geographical area and so on. In this manner, the open-source community is built up by the contributions made by people from every nook and corner of the world. Here, we will have to understand the fact that community can be regarded as the backbone of open source. With the help of the community, one can strengthen the open source ecosystem by active participation and contribution.

Now, let us get a better understanding about the open source community with the help of a contributor funnel created by @MikeMcQuaid below:

Three icons on right representing people, horn and tools, and a down arrow mark on left explaining the diversity, equity and inclusion in open source  Source: Open Source Guides

The above diagram shows three categories of participants in the open source community. Like the users, contributors and maintainers. These participants play an important role in the progress of the open source community. You will be surprised to know that every user can become a potential maintainer. It is possible by making the experience of each stage of the category easy and hassle free which indeed will encourage every user to take more responsibility and become an active maintainer of the community. 

Here, the question which now comes is, how can you maintain a healthy community? Let me give you an idea of how you possibly can build up a trust-worthy community which will contribute with best endeavour. So, the first and foremost thing to do is, welcome the participants and make them feel valued in the community. After they step in, give them clarity about your work with the help of a README which will provide them full transparency regarding your project. As documenting everything about your project with a README is always a must for better understanding which is also supported by GitHub’s 2017 Open Source Survey. Thereafter, you can let the participants start their contributions by handling simple issues which will boost up their confidence and help them get more involved at work. This further gives you a chance to share the ownership of your project with them making them feel more accepted in the community. While doing that if anyone comes up with any queries, you should always be ready to answer them at the earliest. 

Your community can be a great place for the contributors to learn from each other’s experiences and expertise. Therefore, it is your responsibility to expand your community by sustaining the right people and letting go of the ones who unnecessarily create a toxic environment for everyone. You should stand strong for your community giving equal value to everyone’s opinion and ideas. In this way, you can build a prosperous and healthy community for all. 

What’s next? Let’s now take a look at some of the tweets supporting community contributions to open source.

Contributing to open source is easier for some than others. There’s a lot of fear of being yelled at for not doing something right or just not fitting in. (…) By giving contributors a place to contribute with very low technical proficiency (documentation, web content markdown, etc) you can greatly reduce those concerns. — @mikeal, “Growing a contributor base in modern open source

The truth is that having a supportive community is key. I’d never be able to do this work without the help of my colleagues, friendly internet strangers, and chatty IRC channels. (…) Don’t settle for less. Don’t settle for assholes. — @okdistribute, “How to Run a FOSS Project

While it’s important to create a sense of belonging for the members of an open source community, it is equally important to encourage diverse minds to be a part of the community and become more and more inclusive. Let’s look at a research report conducted by the World Economic Forum that highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion at workplace. This report explains that when all the employees, managers and the entire organization work under well managed diverse teams, they tend to perform better than homogeneous teams in terms of their usual productivity. Therefore, the practice of diversity, equity and inclusion should be encouraged by the open source community too. This can be seen in the below diagram:

Graphical representation with curves explaining diversity and inclusion at workplaceSource: World Economic Forum

Challenges while Promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Open Source Communities

In the past few years, the open source community has witnessed some challenges while promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. Let us discuss today some of the most important challenges by taking help of some genuine survey reports.

Not enough contributions from female and non-binary coders

According to a 2017 GitHub open source survey, 95% of contributors of open source projects were male, whereas only 3% of contributors were reported to be female(1% defined as non-binary). The US Bureau of Labor Data says that only 21.2% of professional developers are female.  

Here comes a diagram from 2019 DigitalOcean developer survey to show that the participation of male in open source is comparatively more than female:

Table explaining diversity, equity and inclusion in open sourceSource: DigitalOcean

Next, let’s look at another diagram where the participation of young developers, both male and female are shown in comparison to older generations of contributors regarding their experience in open-source.

Table explaining diversity, equity and inclusion in open sourceSource: DigitalOcean

From the above diagram we can understand the fact that when the younger generation both male and female join the open-source community, they don’t find any hurdles in terms of guidance or required resources. But as we know that the older generation of contributors mainly comprises of male due to gender diversity. So, they do not preferably contribute to the change needed in the community towards gender inequality. As a result, the young female contributors experience injustice and are deprived of opportunities. Therefore, the cycle of male preference in open-source continues.

The sad state of women in a male-dominated world

To get a deeper understanding about the reasons for lack of diversity in open source, let us look into another seminar paper which was written as a part of the lecture Free and Open Technologies, held by Christoph Derndorfer and Lukas F. Lang at TU Wien, Austria, during the winter term 2019/2020. This seminar paper talks about a case, Katie Bouman. 

In April 2019, the first visualization of the black hole was revealed. After this, another picture went viral which was of a young female computer scientist, named Katie Bouman. She is a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and a member of the team running Event Horizon Telescope, contributing with her algorithm to capture this image. Her team consisted of 200 researchers. But solely, Bouman was made the face of the black hole project by the media. Bouman tried to clarify this confusion but was made a role model as she was a woman working in a men-dominated field. On the other side she received immense hatred and even her Wikipedia page was said to be deleted. So, with this case you get an idea about the diversity problem in open-source.

Women need to be empowered within open source communities 

Then we have one more report named “Towards a More Gender-inclusive Open Source Community” published by the Institute of Development Studies at the (DIAL) Digital Impact Alliance. It brings light into the circumstances of gender diversity. This paper shows how women can be supported and an inclusive community can be built.

This report says that there has to be some changes in facilities for women to empower them to contribute actively in open-source. Let us see how can it be done:

  • Resources: In order to excel in one’s career aspirations, one should be given the right amount of resources which can be used to reach the desired goals. Similarly, talking about women in open source, they should also be provided with the opportunity of learning various skills required to enhance their knowledge and contributions. They should be given a friendly working atmosphere to come up with their ideas and plans in the community.
  • Institutions: This comprises the different social environment one gets in life in the form of family, educational institutions and the society at large. It is usually seen that a woman is less likely to get the necessary support from her family in terms of education and other facilities. Growing up when they want to pursue their career and also look after their family life, they are stopped from doing so and are left to take tough decisions of choosing one over another. Therefore, a change in the society’s perception is needed to encourage women to manage their both family and career with dignity and respect.
  • Agency: This comprises the ability of a woman to become a good leader and a decision maker. When it comes to open source, there is less encouragement towards women to prove their capabilities compared to men. So, such injustice has to be abolished for equal and fair chances.

As a part of the above mentioned report, one interview was conducted among women who were contributors working  as programmers and multi-taskers. It’s definitely high to empower and encourage more women to participate in open source ecosystem going by the number of women who were in the open source projects at the time of interview.

Table showing number of women in open source communitiesOpen source organisations and communities in which women contributors were active at the time of interview | Source: DIAL

Time, money, and recruitment from demographically homogeneous communities are obstacles too

In a report by GitHub, in association with The Case Foundation, Nadia Eghbal states that one of the reasons why there is a lack of diversity in the open-source community compared to the technology sector, is because the open-source contributors need time and money to contribute initially which at times can be very difficult. The open source ecosystem must be enhanced by the inclusion of diversity, believes Lorena Mesa, an engineer at GitHub and the Director and Vice-Chair Elect of the Python Software Foundation. Justin W. Flory, a member of the RIT LibreCorps and UNICEF, an open source initiative said that the early leaders of OSS recruited contributors from homogeneous communities leading to diversity issues which can be seen till the present. He further stated, “I look at what we're going through now in this emergency of emphasis on communities, on diversity inclusion, and I feel like there is no other way to describe it then as a feminist movement in free software.” Learn how good leadership and inclusion within the open source communities can make a world of difference.

Neverending myths about open source have to vanish

Now, a contribution is made by Nithya A. Ruff, the Head of Comcast’s Open Source Program Office about some misconceptions which people have about open-source. So, here it goes. The first misconception is that you need to be a programmer in order to join the open source community. But it isn’t true. Open-source is also a platform for various other industries other than technology. The second myth is that the culture and norms of the open source community is easy to navigate. But in reality it isn’t so. You will find a lot of feedback where the new contributors reveal that they don’t get the necessary co-operations from the community members. The third misunderstanding is about the fact that you can’t be a casual contributor but you rather have to work under an open-source project for your entire life-time. But the truth is, you can work according to your convenience and be a short time contributor.

Here are few tweets supporting the above discussions:

Tweet showing a person's face on left and text on rightTweet showing a person's face on left and text on right


So, the above myths can also be termed as challenges towards a more diverse open-source community. Therefore, necessary steps should be taken to overcome these adversities.

Open source meritocracy and the significance of diversity and inclusion

Now let’s also look into some of the information depicting the truth about inequality and favouritism within the open-source community. Women were seen compromising their health when in the year 2015, a heart transplant was available to only 20% of women compared to 80% of men. Apple launched its first Health Tracking App in 2014 which omitted a woman’s menstrual cycle that should have been one of the major concerns regarding a woman’s health and wellness. Amazon was seen removing its AI recruiting tool which was designed to select applicants based on resumes submitted to the company over a 10 years time period that mostly came from men.  

So, apart from the above mentioned challenges of diversity in open-source, you will find many other such discriminations based on socioeconomic status, nationality and so on. In cases like this a question comes to my mind, what if meritocracy was practiced in open source? It could help the community in finding the right participants with merit, intelligence, creativity and skills who were truly deserving. With meritocracy, the open-source could experience diversity, equity and inclusion within the community. This ideology is also supported by huge companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Netflix. More on the impact of large companies on open source here.

Meritocracy does not consider the reality that tech does not operate on a level playing field. — Emma Erwin and Larissa Shapiro, Mozilla.

Statistics show that 78% of companies run all of their businesses with open source software. So, looking at the ratio, it is a must that all the companies working in open source software should follow the rules and regulations and include contributors encouraging meritocracy within their community. If not all, but some are taking initiatives in giving opportunities to the people around the globe looking forward to being a part of open-source. Here is an example: Outreachy is a program which organises a three month paid internship with free and open source software projects for people who experience favouritism and are under-represented  in the technical industry where they are living. 

After discussing the challenges of the open source community, let’s now peep into the topic, ‘Code of Conduct’ which cannot be avoided. 

Is Code of Conduct Enhancing Diversity in Open Source?

Code of conduct can be a medium of communication among the contributors of the open source community. It helps people to know about the set rules, regulations and practices that are to be followed in order to maintain the professional conduct of an organization. 

For open source projects, The Contributor Covenant was created by Coraline Ada Ehmke who is a software developer and an open-source advocate. This contributor covenant works for safeguarding the rights of the members of the community from experiencing misbehaviour and ill treatment. So, it is followed by prominent companies like Apple, Google, Salesforce, Linux, Creative Commons and many open-source projects as well. It has become an essential part of the open source community. We have with us an example where Eric S. Raymond, one of the founders of the Open Source Initiative was banned for violating the code of conduct by his misbehaviour. But alone CoC can’t stop discrimination happening in the field of diversity in open source. There is a need for better authority and management which can strictly look after the matter. 

Wonderful Stories from Open Source Communities Embracing Diversity

The Open source community can be termed as a social movement which is diverse. It is a community model which is designed to help aspiring people contribute to the world their ideas, innovations and unique talents. Here we have some examples of extraordinary open source contributors:

1. Drupal

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are valued by Drupal as there is a separate team to monitor their active participation and implementation. Drupal celebrates the pride month every year by changing its logo on social media platforms. This is observed inorder to thank the members of Drupal for welcoming and supporting LGBTQ+ into their community.

logo of Drupal Association with drop shaped icon on left

When the world was once again reminded, through the George Floyd incident, that the 21st century still witnesses the violent incidents of racism, the Drupal Community joined hands in raising its voice against such brutal attacks. The statement given by Drupal is as follows:

(We stand with people across the globe in condemning racism, racist behavior and all abuses of power. We grieve for the black community, which has endured another unspeakable tragedy in a long history of injustice)

Drupal believes in the ideology of getting better quality results or performance out of diverse working groups in the community. The Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team aims at increasing the contributions to the Drupal projects by the people who are underrepresented or devalued in the Drupal community.

logo of Drupal Diversity and Inclusion contribution team in the shape of a droplet in blue

The diversity problem was handled by Drupal in a very smart way, by introducing Drupal conferences and workshops. These platforms gave exposure to the underrepresented groups to speak and open up their views, perceptions and ideas to a larger audience increasing their confidence level. A speaker training workshop was hosted on September 21 and 28, 2019 with Jill Binder by the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Group to inspire people around the world. 

The Community Working Group(CWG)  also conducts workshops for the community leaders to provide them the necessary tools, resources and knowledge to build a friendly and flourishing community. To get a better idea of conducting successful conferences, CWG follows feedback from past workshops like Teamwork and Leadership workshop conducted at DrupalCon Nashville. Such workshops are of two days duration. The first day was spent by discussing the needs or necessities and challenges faced by the community members. It was followed by the discussion of utilizing the nudges appropriately and building a positive environment within the community. Then the second day, they talked about emotional intelligence and finding ways to resolve conflicts. There was also a case study challenge, where various groups were assigned tasks of resolving conflicts which were seen in Drupal or other open-source communities. These workshops proved to be beneficial for the community members. 

Drupal encourages healthy conversations to maintain a positive ambience within the community. Even though people try to maintain a peaceful environment, sometimes due to differences in opinions people tend to hurt each other’s feelings. To resolve this issue, an idea was discussed at a Community Working Group (CWG) workshop at DrupalCon Seattle. For the Drupal community, the CWG Community Health team has been working on a communication initiative which comprises a series of de-escalation templates labeled as “Nudges”.

Five icons attached to semicircle representing diversity and inclusion in Drupal


There are five nudges which the community members can utilize when they come across any such uncomfortable circumstances within the Drupal community. Every nudge gives a clarity about why a certain comment towards a member can be harmful and it also provides some relevant links like the Code of Conduct and Values and Principles.

Below are the nudges. Take a look:

  • Inclusive language (gendered terms): Use of gendered language is prohibited. Such language impacts the community negatively as it encourages gender inequality within the community.
  • Inclusive language (ableist terms): Use of  ableist language can hurt the sentiment of people with disabilities. Therefore, one is abstained from using such language within the community.
  • Gatekeeping knowledge: When a community member expects a new community member to know everything about the project without giving the required guidance and questions his/her contributions and ideas, then this nudge can be used. The new contributor shall be supported by helping them learn the necessary concept and topic.
  • Cultural differences: The members coming from different backgrounds, speaking a culturally specific language are undervalued for their contribution by the other members as they are unable to speak the global language common for all. While translating one has to be very careful as expressing something exactly the same in a different language might at times sound rude and uncomfortable.
  • Escalating emotions: Every community demands mutual understanding and proper communication inorder to build a healthy environment for all. So, while working together every member should be given equal amount of respect and dignity without any discrimination. The Drupal community further takes care by providing resources to the members at the time of conflict.

Give a look at what Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal, wants to share about gender and geographic diversity statistics of the recent years. It is as follows:

Gender Diversity’s position was closely observed by Dries Buytaert as it is one of the biggest challenges of the open-source community. A slight progress was seen in terms of contribution but still wasn’t enough to be celebrated as a victory of gender equality. Let’s take a look below:

Bar graph with blue, green, and black vertical bars showing statistics on contribution by different genders of drupal communitySource: Dries Buytaert's Blog

Here we have the top 20 countries from which contributions are made in Drupal. The below diagram says it all:

Bar graph with blue, green, and black vertical bars showing statistics on contribution by different countries for drupalSource: Dries Buytaert's Blog

With the above explanations, we get to know that the efforts are made to improve gender and geographic diversity. But it isn’t enough. Therefore, better practices and strategies have to be made in order to reach the desired results. Learn more about Drupal's role in encouraging diversity and inclusion here.

2. Red Hat

Red Hat is one of the leading open source provider companies which actively takes initiative in building an open source community filled with innovation and productivity of better technology. They believe in the collective contribution of every skilled participant irrespective of gender, race, class or nationality within the community. One of the initiatives it took to encourage diversity was by including Women in Open Source Community Award in 2015. This ceremony was organized to appreciate and honor women for their outstanding contribution towards the open source community.  

Red Hat observed a very sensitive matter of using inappropriate language by software programmers which at times affected the sentiment of some participants. The usage of terminology like ‘master’ or ‘slave’ was the major concern. Chris Wright, chief technology officer at Red Hat confirms that Red Hat is building a team to examine its documentation, code and content to find out the improper language and replace it with the right ones. Some of the changes are as follows:

  • Master branch will be renamed as ‘main branch’
  • Whitelist to be renamed as ‘allowlist’
  • Blacklist to be changed to ‘denylist’

3. Mozilla

Mozilla is one of the communities who is open and easily accessible to everyone looking for meaningful contributions towards the vast open source community who is constantly seeking growth. Diversity has been one of the interests of this community and they have always taken the necessary steps towards it. 

In 2018, the code review process was made equal for all without any gender bias by this community. To improve diversity within their staff they published a blogpost in the year 2019. Here is the progress they made:

  • There was an increase of women in technical roles from 13.2 percent to 17.4 percent in their community.
  • Out of all people managers, the women representation has increased from 36.0 percent to 39.1 percent and in terms of executive leadership roles, the graph has raised from 33.3 percent to 41.2 percent within December 2018.
  • The representation of minorities rose from 6.9 percent to 7.9 percent in 2018, but the target of 8.9 percent couldn’t be achieved.
  • From underrepresented minority groups, Mozilla hired 12.4 percent people and also a rise in people of colour from 35.2 percent (2017) to 36.2 percent (2018).

In cooperation with Kubernetes and companies like Red Hat, Mozilla gives importance to the execution of codes of conduct so that proper communication and professional conduct can be maintained within the people of diverse nature. Most importantly, it raises funds for open source projects.

4. The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation focuses on broadening the practice of diversity and inclusion, building a more welcoming space for people from diverse backgrounds and expertise. This association commits towards constructing a bias free environment by taking few initiatives as follows:

  • Initiative of Inclusive Naming
  • Advancing diversity and inclusion in Software Engineering
  • Availability of free online courses
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Events
  • Live Mentorship Series
  • LiFT Scholarships

Out of all these, advancing diversity and inclusion in Software Engineering is something that can catch one’s attention. The Linux Foundation announced the Software Developer Diversity and Inclusion (SDDI) project on 26th October 2020. Through SDDI, exploration and utilization of best research procedures, the diversity and inclusion in software engineering could be increased.

5. The Apache Software Foundation

The Apache Software Foundation started a project named Apache Diversity and Inclusion with the mission of constructing a community valuing diversity and inclusion giving exposure to a wide group of people seeking career path/ professional advancement.

homepage of Apache diversity showing textual information on their mission and vision for encouraging diversity and inclusion in their project development works


6. The Academy Software Foundation

The Academy Software Foundation stands against the injustice and inequality happening in the open-source community. It aims at removing all the barriers which creates hurdles in the process of growth and development of potential contributors all over the world.

To set your basics right and make your open source project more diverse and inclusive, Open Source Diversity is a good place to start. From identifying projects which support underrepresented groups like WikiProject Women in Red (for increasing the women representation in Wikipedia) to finding mentorship programs like Write/Speak/Code (visibility for women and non-binary coders through thought leadership), Open Source Diversity has it all!

Conclusion

To completely abolish the challenges of diversity, equity and inclusion in the open-source community is not easy. But there is no end to consistent effort and endeavor. So, it is important to be fully aware of the situation and work towards the collective goal as a team around the world. Therefore, let’s never forget, ‘Diversity leads to Prosperity’. 

May 26 2021
May 26

Owing to the numerous aspects and applications of web personalization, it might be a confusing term for many despite its omnipresence across the virtual world today. Web personalization is best understood as individualization of a website customised in a manner to cater to an individual's unique requirements. The importance of this concept can be realised from the fact that the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, prophetically mentioned something along the lines of personalization almost 2 decades ago.

"If we have 4.5 million customers, we shouldn't have one store, we should have 4.5 million stores."

Jeff Bezos in 1998


Why do you need website personalisation?

There are numerous statistics and numbers that point towards better business relationships with customers when personalisation is adopted, as when a user feels a personal connection with a piece of content or a layout, he is more likely to invest in the product or service. This is substantiated by the fact that Invesp's survey points out that around 56% of online shoppers are likely to return to a website when they see product recommendations customised according to their interests. Running a cross check from the other end as well, it has also been noted by MarketingProfs that 66% of marketers said that a chance of an improved business performance was their main reason for going forward with personalization. Listed below are some additional statistics that showcase the benefits of web personalization.

three blue circle with text enclosed talking about the benefits of web personalisation


On the other hand, if data and numbers don't speak to you to dig deeper into the human value of building relationships and don't just care about the turnover, web personalization is still your best friend. Apart from the very obvious benefits of increased conversions and sales, DSR duniya prasad the ways in which web personalization helps a business.

  • Meeting customer expectations

From customers' point of view, in this age of integrated tools and technologies, web personalization is not something out of the blue - rather, they expect a degree of customisation from the businesses that they associate with. As backed by sufficient research and data, custom recommendations and suggestions work better in attracting and retaining customers in the longer run.

  • Building brand loyalty

As a subsequent side effect of having invested more into the research and the choices made by the customers, you would garner greater brand loyalty. Tailored marketing strategies, no doubt, speak more to the user than the generic ones. 

  • Engaging your customers

User relationships are nurtured and allowed to grow with your website creating relevant offers, content and CTAs (Call To Action). Once you have done the job of gaining their attention right, the purchase can be accelerated even further by using personalization.

  • Trustworthiness

When you give to the customer, you are bound to receive back. For the smooth User experience ranging across the site and getting recommendations for products that they actually like and value, customers are bound to trust your website more than the others and are likely to rely more on your data.

Types of website personalisation 

User controlled

User-controlled personalization is where the entire website is controlled by a custom criteria set by the user himself. It is usually explicitly asked what the user's specifics related to geography, gender, languages spoken etc. are. These kinds of websites rely on the fact that the user will  take out the time to tell them they are in order to be directed towards personalized products and services based on their own inputs.

The most common method of initiating user-controlled personalization is by asking the consumer to create an account and hence provide a bunch of details about themselves in the process.

For the geographical location of the user, more often than not, their IP(Internet Protocol) addresses are tracked to see what part of the globe they belong to.

Behavioral

In the other kind of personalization, it is not explicitly asked from the user about what they want and who they are. Personalization here is placed more on the user's website browsing history and also based on their interactions with the website content. The data so gathered is then utilized to understand their deeper interests and gauge out their persona. For example, Netflix first observes what are shows one watches and then recommends newer shows based on their history. Considering how much data this process involves, the research can be a pretty daunting task, but works in a magical way once conducted properly.

Contextual

Contextual personalisation is when the activities that you do in the day are analysed and used as a context to provide further recommendations to you. Perhaps the best example of this is a fitness tracking software - it recommends activities to you based on how much you’ve walked or exercised in a day. 

Personalisation can also range from varying degrees and levels depending on where you want your user to find you . 

Email personalisation

Consumers that identify themselves to a business by giving out their email address for some form of notifications or newsletters are sent targeted emails that form a part of an essential communication based on the data that the consumer has provided. Addresses are utilised for targeted email campaigns and differ from other generic ones as they have greater chance of lead to user conversion.

Campaigns

Custom landing pages might be created from time to time to support the cause of a campaign if it is relevant to the organisation's ethical cause. Usually CTA is placed in these landing pages to donate or contribute in some manner. 
Implementing web personalisation

Where to start?

With research, of course! Research regarding personalization will vary greatly depending on the kind of industry and business vertical you are looking to create content for. It should also go along well with your other goals and objectives should fall in line with the rest of your tools in use. While collecting data ensure that it is factually  correct and not outdated, that you are adhering to all regulations while collecting it, and that you have a virtual silo for storing all of this data and extracting it whenever it is required.

Identifying your audience

Once all the data is within your arms' reach, used to identify your target audience and also create the personas of your visitors. These personas should be vividly detailed and should contain all relevant information needed to create custom experiences. Here's an example of a detailed user persona.

three columns with text outlining a user persona


Details like this will save essential time and effort while going through the data of thousands of users as you'll know exactly what to look for. This will help you immensely in the process of identifying your target audience. Learn more about the importance of audience segmentation in web personalisation here.

Setting your goals

Assuming that the research and segmentation part is done and dusted with, it is now time to get realistic and think about what is achievable and how much resources are required to complete the exercise - also whether the allocation is in line with the bigger picture. Once the data is studied and understood, you can now create an actionable plan that demonstrates how you plan to achieve your goals by using personalization and what your monthly or quarterly targets should be. 

Also always keep in mind that personalization is an incremental process and as you get more data with each interaction, the metrics need to be updated - that is, if you want to stay updated.

Mapping out the approach

But where does the plan of action start with? Do you create a separate landing page based on the data, or should it be incorporated in the home page itself? Now is the time to lay out a plan for personalizing the navigation and examining the touch points where the data needs to be delivered. You should not lose focus of the main goal, which is to generate maximum returns from this exercise. The right or wrong placement of a single line has the capacity to make or break your efforts.

Content and Design

This is the step where all of the research done is put into practice. The actual elements of a page that a customer interacts with are its content and design, and these should be highly reflective of what the user wants. The teams dealing with these two elements should be given access to the data and should be briefed comprehensively about what their work should comprise. Everything from the colour palette, the layout, to the kinds of images used are dynamic - but should also be intrinsically connected to your brand image. You should not be struggling to maintain your identity in the face of all of this personalization.

  • The header is your hero. Rightly said, the first impression is extremely important and it is important to put forward a good one. If you can personalize the header using an IP address to create a personal greeting to the customer, there would be nothing like it. The sub heading underneath every header and the image in the backdrop can also be personalized for each category of consumer that you are targeting. 
  • Add elements like featured blogs and other content based on the interactions that the user has had - like recommending ebooks or product related educational pieces. 
  • Highlight specific features of a product or solutions that you offer which are sure to resonate with the kind of audience that you are trying to attract. You could also try experimenting with motion UI to ensure that attention is attracted towards that part of the page.
  • A huge driver can also be customer testimonials, hence be sure to include some at a prominent spot in the homepage. Logos of brands that are associated with you, are partners with you or have invested in your company also add to the trustworthiness factor.

To know more, read about the significance of UX in the age of personalisation.

But is it working?

Early trends in metrics should not be ignored. Keep some analytics tools handy for examining the early trends in data after everything has been implemented. Have a clear analysis of 'before' so that you can compare the 'after'. Take into account the things like

  • Time spent on the site
  • Frequency of visitors
  • Content interacted with
  • Volume of new and returning visitors in comparison to the previous volumes recorded

Dive into the statistics and use it for the initial A/B testing. Analyse the data from different perspectives by keeping into account any seasonal or contextual effects that might have impacted the user behaviour during the said period of time. 

In mid stage metrics, points of data should be deduced from

  • Number of actions taken on the site
  • User feedbacks, if any
  • Quality of visitors - are they a part of your target audience?
  • Trends in lead to user conversion

Lastly, these metrics should be utilized to provide better iterations in the future.

Web personalisation in the near future

Less physical, more digital.

A miniscule number of companies have been deploying personalisation  beyond their digital presence. It has been predicted that all the places of interaction that have been largely physical till now will gradually be digitised, like food chains or clothing stores. Several clothing stores that have digitally transformed themselves to adhere to the present times allow 'online trials' using augmented reality to provide a personalized experience to the consumer. AI (Artificial Intelligence) enabled tools are utilised to improve the services - for example, it has been noted that food since Macy's and Starbucks use GPS (Global Positioning System) to trigger relevant in app push notifications to the consumer when they are near one of their stores. To know more, read how machine learning enhances personalisation at scale and in what different ways machine learning can be utilised for effective web personalisation.

Hence, in upcoming years we can expect the digitisation of presently predominantly physical spaces.

Scaling empathy

What makes AI stand out in this world surrounded by technology is its ability to incrementally improve after every interaction. Recently, McKinsey noted that smart speakers like Alexa and Google home for getting smarter over time and adding more to the skill set day by day.
 

bar graphs with black and blue bars talking about the smartness of home devices like alexa and their role in perosnalisation


The relationship of humans with technology and personalization is at a somewhat peculiar junction where we want the machines to understand us and not be completely mechanical - rather, a slight emotional, human touch is preferred. Thus, the concept of empathy will scale and devices will be expected to be more understanding of human behaviour in different times and contexts.

Formation of ecosystems

It is well known by now that a shopper's buying experience cycle - starting right from the introduction to a product till the end result of finally buying it is a cumulation of several touchpoints both offline and online that contributed to the overall buying experience. For example, an ad seen online, a promotional phone call, an offline retail store all might have contributed to the experience but at different timelines and regions. The next step towards personalization as it expands further would be to create a connection between all of these points and create an entire ecosystem to get personalized products and services delivered to the customer. It does not seem to be that far away, with smart home devices working towards integrating the entire place together and using shared experiences to render personalized offerings. For a complete guide on web personalisation, read here.

Taking the future as a reference

It is always better to live in the future as compared to the present. If you want to future proof your strategies it would be wise to roll out bigger investments on customer data and analytics. You can also make investments in finding and training translators so that you can personalize your brand's experience even further for the global crowd. The future of personalisation is agile and cross disciplinary, and traditional marketing efforts could go futile. Therefore, it would be best to refer to the upcoming trends and strategize your efforts accordingly - in order to remain a step forward than the others. 

May 25 2021
May 25

Providing an optimum digital platform that is accessible, meaningful as well as communicative of your organisation’s plans and objectives is imperative to creating a healthy brand image and also for being considerate of your customers’ demands and expectations from you. Most consumers today expect a widespread and uniform and digital presence of the brand that they are associating with - a presence that lays everything out on the table and leaves close to nothing behind closed doors.

This is where the concept of a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) comes in. A DXP is an integrated software framework that is used to reach out to a wide horizon of audiences through an array of digital channels and touchpoints. The recent decades of the digital boom have brought it to many organisations’ notice to invest in DXPs to build, deploy and continually improve their websites, applications and digital experiences. 

There are two core principles that stand out in the explanation of a digital experience platform.

  • Multiple integrated technologies are needed to connect to a wide array of digital touchpoints.
  • Management of all of these expanded experiences is done from a central platform that acts as a single control centre.

Let's have a look at the visual definition of a DXP.

white background with green graphics showcasing the visual representation of a DXPSource : Xtevia

A recent report showcased that 47% consumers would abandon a brand that doesn't provide relief and product suggestions and shop from some renowned organisation like Amazon instead. Impact found that companies have been realising the importance of an expanded digital presence, with over 44% of the surveyed companies were presently working towards a digital first approach, while 34% had already undergone a transformation. 

Owing to these statistics, it comes as no surprise that the Global Digital Experience Platform Market continues to keep expanding year after year.

Bar graph using yellow and blue lines tracking the popularity of DXPsSource : Data Bridge Market Research

Kinds of DXPs

Two of the primary approaches to Digital Experience Platforms are:

Open DXP

A platform that serves as the connective bridge of digital experiences by integrating multiple products from different vendors together so that they can work and perform as one, is an Open DXP. Hence organisations that already have a wide digital presence and own multiple digital experience products will be able to utilize Open DXP better.

Closed DXP

A closed DXP on the other hand is also a one-stop-shop that has all major DXP components - but the differences that all of these components are maintained by a single provider and integrations with other applications is fairly limited. 

When it comes to choosing the right approach out of these two, it can be very tricky for an organisation as it depends upon what a certain business might be looking for. For instance, an organisation can avoid closed DXP if it does not want to completely ditch different parts of its platform that are working well for it today. On the other hand, choosing open DXP can be fruitful as it lets a business maintain the part of its experience toolset that is working fine. An Open source DXP can lend flexibility to an organisation’s future. A digital business should still look at what it really wants based on all the different factors.

Based on organisation’s specific use cases, DXP has branched itself into three further categories:

CMS DXPs

For today’s creative agencies that require management tools and creative freedom than what a CMS offers, a CMS (Content Management System) DXP makes the cut by focusing more on the needs of the marketing department as well as the User experience (UX) of the platform. These are particularly sought-after if the business is B2C - where the sale cycle is short and the audience is large, as CMS-heritage DXPs have strong offerings for web-based analytics, user segmentations, advertising and campaigns. Learn more about choosing the right CMS and why Drupal can be the way to go.

Portal DXPs

On the other hand if your business is one of those where long-term customer relationships are valued even after the transaction has been made, a Portal DXP is better suited for the purpose. These trace their origins back to providing customer portals and help businesses understand the factors that lead to better customer loyalty and retention. These DXPs can be especially useful for gathering inputs before providing customer service and assistance in issue resolution. 

Commerce DXPs

Commerce DXPs are used for setting up online e-commerce platforms. In addition to product related content delivery and online shopping platform style web interfaces, Commerce DXPs also provide the capabilities related to inventory management, shopping cart, payment integration and checkouts.

DXP vs CMS vs WEM

Now that we're done with defining and analysing the different kinds of DXPs, let’s address the most common query when it comes to these platforms - how is a DXP different from a CMS or a WEM (Web Experience Management)? As the diagram below shows, these similar sounding terms have different use cases and are suited to companies with different goals and aspirations. A DXP has grown out of the limitations posed by a traditional CMS, with regard to creating and managing customer experiences - letting the user dive deeper into the concepts and applications of UX. Forrester's Mark Grannan defines the difference between CMS and DXP as 

“Web CMS is critical for developing, managing and optimizing web, mobile, and other content-based experiences. API-first architecture and cloud deployments are reshaping the packaging of digital capabilities into more granular tools that can be assembled on demand.”
column consisting of three subheadings each talking about DXP, CMS and WEM


A Web Experience Management platform was also born out of newer customer needs, introducing cross-channel functionality for content and data delivery. A WEM enables a brand's business units to share information digitally across channels, and gives the business greater visibility into the user behaviours and personas according to their activities on these channels. 

But the ultimate solution for delivering multi-channel marketing and better user experiences emerges in the form of a DXP, as it brings out the best in both worlds. 

When do you need a DXP?

But of course, not everyone would require a DXP as it completely depends on an organisation's present needs and future aspirations. One must look out to onboard a DXP if 

  • Building relationships with your audience throughout the transaction is one of the chief goals of your organisation.
  • Your future plans include organising omni-channel experiences that provide you the ability to reach out and deliver content to multiple devices and channels like mobile phones, tablets, email inboxes and social media.
  • In a bid to enhance the User Experience of your digital presence, your organisation's pipeline mentions several integrations of new data and platforms to optimise the content and the layouts for your end users. 
  • Further elaborating on the UX, content personalization and differentiated customer experiences are rated high on importance to retain customers and create value. When you work with a DXP, it does the job of collecting consumer data, defining user personas, and serving custom content to specific audiences, also alongside connecting this data with other channels like social media and mobile applications. Hence, a DXP integrates with other systems and departments to create highly personalized experiences for your audience.
  • A platform that does most of the analytical thinking by itself is also great for comprehensive strategizing and planning your roadmaps across channels all while having a single, sturdy management. Not just in the planning, a DXP is also great for retrospection and management of the entire campaign and for incorporating the inputs so received into the workflow.

Choosing the right DXP

While it may seem like a daunting task to choose the perfect digital experience  for your enterprise, the job becomes much easier when you go through the process step by step. Choosing the ideal DXP should consist of the following steps.

Map out your requirements

It is easy to get caught up in the flashy new features offered in the market, but you must keep in mind that your company has unique requirements and that the features and functionalities you might have on your wishlist shouldn't just be there because they're an upcoming trend or a buzzword. Anything that you plan to invest on should add value to the organisation. Set realistic goals and about your requirements in a phase by phase manner, ranging from high priority to low priority.

Assess your readiness for transformation

There is quite a lot of change that happens when fundamental decisions like onboarding a DXP are taken. It is now time to analyse whether your content delivery channels and your diverse audience would benefit from this change - and if they would, would they benefit enough for you to go through the ordeal? Is your audience receptive to change and welcomes new initiatives? Or is it more a laid back user base that wants to identify with traditional systems and methodologies? More importantly, do you have enough resources to absorb the changes that come about - i.e., are you ready both in spirit and capacity to make this change?

Onboard some experts

Bigger projects require a broader perspective, so do not take it upon yourself to analyse who the leading technology vendors are and which one to go for, as there is expert help available for that at any point. Keep an eye out for analysts like Gartner and Forrester that constantly release rankings including top players in digital experience, commerce, CMS and the likes. All of these should be considered while the research is undergoing for a new DXP.

Evaluating surrounding ecosystems

Don’t trace the journey without conducting thorough research about what is going on in the market and with your competitors. Note which organisations used which parts of different technologies and tools, and how well these have helped the enterprise to flourish in the duration. Also take the time to examine  the goals or features of other businesses that overlap with your organization's and how they have been catalysing their workflow with the use of newer tech. Methods that are already tried and tested will help you out a great deal as there is no better testimony than a practical  example.

Also ask your vendor for plenty of references for you to study during the research process to be absolutely sure before finalising a DXP.

Plan a roadmap

Lastly, don’t think only about the present but also the future. There should be a pipeline of tasks that are to be done with regard to the platform in the next few months. Team discussions regarding the execution and usage of the DXP should take place beforehand so that everything works at its optimum. 

Benefits of using a DXP

There's a reason why many big organisations seem to be gravitating towards DXPs to take care of their present and future roadmaps. This is because a DXP comes with some pretty solid advantages.

Integrated Controls

DXPs are best suited for multi-channel deliveries and expanding into the far reaches of the web all while keeping a single integrated control panel. A DXP is well equipped to create comprehensive strategies across different platforms all while keeping the operations seamless, and also enabling close collaboration among web page optimisation, content optimisation and also email campaigns. Not only this, you can also rely on the platform for analytics tracking and A/B testings.

graphics of a phone, community, store and a watch showing the central integration facilitated by a DXP


Flexibility

DXPs can be pretty dynamic and flexible in application and that is exactly what's needed in the fast evolving world of today. DXPs, owing to their open API (Application Programming Interface) first architecture, are flexible enough to integrate the latest technologies so that you can serve that to your customers as soon as possible. Thus, a DXP is both accommodative of changes in your plans as well as scope of the project, as scalability is one of its primal strengths.

Personalization

As DXPs are great with analysing, tracking, and everything else that constitutes user research before rolling out a product, they also are simultaneously great for creating personalized user experiences of these channels by taking into account the several inputs that they received over these touchpoints. If your business bases itself on creating unique experiences for your customers, a DXP is quite a godsend. 

Being future proof

Investing in a platform which is as moldable and customisable as a DXP also is a method of future proofing yourself against an impending technical debt. Apart from this, as organisations dive deeper into the user journeys, relationships that could sustain in the future are also nurtured as needs are understood as well as addressed in a better manner. The information that a DXP gathers for you can turn out to be invaluable in the time to come.

Exploring upcoming digital experience trends

DXP and AI

To study all the data flowing in from multiple sources, analyse it, and to bring forward better content and servicing after reviewing the inputs received and also to continuously maintain and improve the process, artificial intelligence is brought into the loop. The entire concept of a DXP is based on artificial intelligence - AI is interwoven intrinsically in DXP and has access to data from every tool and touchpoint. In turn, the DXP acts as the ultimate seat for the AI to understand and improve the experience from customer acquisition to loyalty.

Voice Interaction

'Smart speakers' constitute a space in the digital sphere that hasn't been mastered yet. But there is no denying that they have become an essential part in the digital experience journey of a customer, and brands that can offer these services seamlessly are sure to have competitive advantage over the others. More about conversational UI here.

Maintaining Privacy

Customer privacy is more important than ever. If you can give your customers the assurance that every data that is collected from them is used for a purpose that they know of, hence involving them into the brand operations, it adds great value to your overall relationship. It shows the end user that you have nothing to hide, that you are transparent, and more importantly, you can be trusted. 

The process matters

Consumers will care more about how you do things. Do you tap on the trends to deliver updated content to your user base? Or is your style more laid back and rigid? As business relationships get more intermingled consumers are going to care it's more than just the product that they're purchasing. They are also going to be  interested in your method of operations, your digital presence, your accessibility on the various channels you're present in, your problem solving techniques, etc. 

Digital will bridge the gap

Digital has been the saving grace during these stressed times, and will continue to be in the saviour even later on. Companies will rely on their digital platforms to access the far reaches of the globe to their scattered audiences. Even within the organisation, a business that is digitally integrated is, in a way, future proof, as it delivers greater visibility into the work of each department and hence better insights on the working of the entire organisation as a whole. This enables one to correct the mistakes faster and achieve greater efficiency faster.

It is inevitable that a business that is flexible, omnipresent, considerate and updated will win the competitive edge in the near future. Hence, it is recommended to start your digital transformation journey as early as possible!

May 25 2021
May 25

All open source thrives on collective inputs and collaboration, there is the need for a centralised channelizing force every now and then to bring out the best in the existing resources. For any organisation that indulges in open source, it is important to remain proactive and constantly reflect upon and retrospect the direction in which their open source investments are heading. 

In any project leadership provides the much-needed vision pathway and blueprint for progressing in a certain direction. Even when something is collaborative, there needs to be a supervisor's perspective to solve problems and meet goals efficiently. 

More often than not, companies have open-source programs with objectives in place that they aim to achieve through the program. Assigning a lead not only improves the overall efficiency of the project but also helps in a number of other ways.

Some of the reasons why organisations care about diving into open source are as follows -

blue background with black text talking about the various benefits of using open source programs


The Seven Laws of Leadership in open source

Leading an open source program varies greatly from the same role in other dimensions in the sense that it is not as straightforward and upfront. And a lot of times people might mistakenly assume that leadership is not required in such a project but they could not be more wrong. Something as vast, spontaneous and continuously evolving needs to be managed and utilised well at every point and in turn needs more supervision than regular platforms.

Let's move ahead and explore some mutually agreed and understood laws of open-source leadership that make a good leader in these platforms.

Competence

Open source leaders are very different from conventional bosses. It can be seen by the personality of Linus Torvalds, founder of Linux or Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat that their personalities spark liveliness and dialogue. They are highly approachable and remain open to the community base that they are a part of, and can be seen acknowledging and crediting their success to the community regularly. 

It can hence be deduced that rarely does a successful open source leader think just for himself, and it is always the values of togetherness and teamwork that take away the cake when it comes to allocating credit to the platform's success and growth. This is exactly the mentality that is required in an open source leader - somebody who drives their authority not from the designation that they hold but from the millions of people that toil everyday to keep the community thriving.

Being a teamplayer

Conventional leadership is largely surrounded by the aspects of authority charisma and holding onto the crown as long as possible. It is hierarchical and depends on the concept of formal leadership. 

On the contrary, an open-source leader isn't supposed to be perfect and utopian. He is more like the first among equals - he is as good as his team members and is not required to show his complete hands above the others in the team. He is supposed to be on the ground and lead the team by example. An open-source leader, hence, is not an unattainable figure, but he is just one commoner who has the ability to manage and improvise. 

Being spontaneous

For a platform that is as fast moving and evolutionary at every second, a laid-back leader just won't make the cut. You should be someone who is capable of taking spontaneous decisions as the leader here should be someone who can formulate and execute ideas quickly. Swift decision making is the key to succeeding in open source, and it must be the central idea of all plans of action. 

The open-source crowd is not patient enough for leaders who will slowly drop suggestions or complain about an issue or expect their contemporaries to resolve the problem at hand. Spontaneity and team spirit are integral to an open source leader and he is expected to pull up his socks and be the first one to start working.

Autonomy

In open source, autonomy replaces hegemony in the leadership role. The management does not exercise coercive control to get everything done, rather, all the tasks are worked upon and pulled together as a team. The job of the leader here is to lay down the framework of all the initiatives to be taken, within the community and establish related objectives to bring those initiatives into action.

This shows that authority and control are obsolete concepts when it comes to this dimension and creativity and autonomy are the desired qualities of an ideal open source leader instead. He is not only supposed to collaborate and lead but also to empower the team members by facilitating every tool and piece of knowledge that is needed to get the work done. 

Delegating it right

Leadership in open source focuses on the right delegation and decentralization of duties. As stated above, blending in well with the team and keeping everybody on the same same page is essential, hence each team member should be enabled to take the authority and ID fix any minor issues that arise from time to time and not reach out to the leader for every minor inconvenience. 

Never ignore the soft skills

Sure, getting the technicalities right is pretty important, but soft skills are the ones that pay off in the long run. More than anyone else, a leader requires a 'human touch' and needs to be empathetic and engaging with the team to keep each member's spirits high and productivity maximum. A leader should be able to perform, communicate explicitly, be very clear with the expectations along with being result oriented. Humility also accounts for a great soft skill and shines above everything else.

Say no to micromanaging

Needless to say, micromanaging can be detrimental to such a vast project as you might be biting off more than you can chew. It is physically impossible to manage everything that goes on in the ground in an open source platform, and one needs to realise that they cannot manage every project from tip to toe. A safer bet is to teach the skills required to your team members and delegate tasks to them regularly - along with trusting them with what they're doing.

Understanding the Leadership Role
 

five coloured circles stating the different qualites of an open source leader


Gaining leadership in an open source project can lead an enterprise to great commercial success. This is because

  • A lot of products depend on open source software technologies 
  • The path to Innovation unfolds much faster in open source
  • The software ecosystem is more or less dominated by open source.
  • Software can make or break your online business and is one of the biggest differentiating factors in present industries. Therefore, the best one matters now more than ever.

Now that we have covered the basic tenets of open source leadership, let's dive deeper into the model and understand the leadership role better. As widely recognised, this role is said to be the embodiment of an integration of these interrelated characteristics.

  • The first trait is to be awake about any intolerance or discrimination experienced by the team. Nothing kills team spirit quicker than bias. With such things to worry about, it would be a big hurdle for any person to look beyond being undervalued or excluded and perform to their full potential. The primary goal is to empower and motivate everybody and take care of all of their insecurities and weaknesses.
  • Branching out from the first characteristic is the second one - and it is trustworthiness. To act as the glue amidst the chaos, the first quality that you need to develop is being trustworthy. Honesty of the team members is extremely important to bring out the best in each resource and you need to give them an open slate to chalk out their aspirations, fears and problems. 
  • A trait exclusively important to open-source leadership is being agile and quick as the world would not wait for you to formulate an idea and implement it, and will move on at its own pace. If you are left behind there's nothing you could possibly do about it. 
  • Lastly, and most importantly, be accessible!  You do not want good ideas to be silenced or issues to not be brought to your notice until the last minute. An open-source leader must acknowledge that authority and responsibility go hand in hand and it is imperative for him to stay proactive and respond to each and every query and argument of his team.

This is how a leadership role in an open source project is outlined. After these essential requirements have been met, the next step would be to break the project down into consecutive steps and work on it one at a time.

Defining the project structure

Most open source projects follow the rule book in having a common repository that defines all the major principles and objectives of the project's governance model, structure, rules and processes. An open source project mein have any one of the three common governance structures - BDLF, meritocracy and liberal contribution.

Allocation of resources

Allocation of resources also includes assignment of roles to different team members. A member might be 

  • A contributor - someone who creates or follows up on an issue.
  • A committer - someone who has been given the access to write access to the repository.
  • A maintainer - someone who sets priorities and directions for a project or a special interest group. 

Mapping out the requirements

This is actually one of the most difficult parts of the process. The requirements in conventional projects are already defined by the company's authorities, but open source requirements come from users and contributors. Working in open source has to be very agile and swift due to this. Needless to say, the pipeline keeps changing and evolving by each passing day.

Defining coding standards

The team must have rules and standards related to both the overall process and coding explicitly mentioned in some documents and shared on a common platform that ensures easy day today communication. A set of directions on how to proceed with the code would avoid unnecessary conflicts and irregularities later on in the projects and save crucial time. 

Mentoring 

While everybody is expected to perform at their individual level, the leader is also expected to go the extra mile and establish a homogenous flow to help everyone on the team. Regular interactions and stand ups might help reinstating the common agendas. A simplistic pathway should be put in place for volunteers to start contributing to the project. Learn more about the perks of contributing to open source here.

How to make the most of open source?

Utilizing and making the most of an open source platform can become significantly easier when you have a strategy in place. 

  • Owing to the dynamic nature of open source goals should be set and reset on a regular basis. Once the agenda has been finalized, it needs to be reviewed annually or biannually for projects to sustain themselves and not go obsolete by the time you get them done. Therefore, even the long term plans in open source can only stretch up to a certain extent.
  • Needless to say, the planning needs to be proactive and there is absolutely no place for neglect in an open source platform specially from the leaders' end. Even when a project is complete it needs to be maintained in order to adapt to the present software trends for your targeted ecosystem.
  • The tech team should remain in sync with every other stakeholder so that the product that they are engineering is always close to the final idea in everyone's mind. To stay updated, after every milestone achieved, try to get appropriate feedback and incorporate it in the execution.

Lastly, one of the most important leadership roles is to foster a culture of psychological safety where the contributors feel free and excited about contributing to a project and not worried about the response that they will get. This is how Michael Cardy, Red Hat's Chief Technology Strategist puts it.

“The culture has to treat failure as an opportunity for learning, and failure is only bad when lessons are not sought and shared with the rest of the organization.”
May 18 2021
May 18

A computer is a marvellous creation, it can be used to build and execute any number of software and instructions that we may want. What is even more marvellous is that it understands exactly what we want it to do. And this extraordinary task is possible because we have programming languages that speak in computers. 

One of them is PHP or Hypertext Preprocessor. It is an open source programming language that runs on a web server, which has been popular throughout its life cycle being the go-to language for web development.

PHP with its server-side scripting together with HTML and its execution in the browser are immensely popular especially when creating dynamic websites is in question. Majority of Drupal sites are built on it, the entirety of Drupal is written in PHP, I think that should be proof of the language’s epic capabilities. 

A graph represents the market position of PHP.Source: W3Techs

The above image further clarifies the doubts about PHP’s capabilities and well, its popularity. 

There are numerous adjectives that I can use to describe PHP’s competencies, however, the one that is appropriate for how the language is going right now would be ‘behind schedule.’ And sadly this adjective isn’t for the language itself but for the websites and developers using it. The reason is the delay in its update. 

Today we’ll try to understand the language in regards to its versions and the capabilities that come with each of these versions and then we’ll get to the important question as to why PHP is not being updated and what you stand to lose, if you keep delaying. 

Let’s start by understanding PHP’s Life Cycle

Like everything else in this world, PHP also comes with an expiration date. Each of the PHP versions has a fixed life cycle, beyond which using it can be detrimental. Usually this life cycle is around three years, once those three years are completed the version becomes unsupported, you can still use it, at your discretion though.

When a PHP version is released, it is actively supported for the next two years. This active support entails the frequent fixing of bugs and security issues and their consequent patching. The third year, sometimes even fourth, will only entail releases pertaining to critical security issues. This is also the time when the next version becomes available. 

Once these three years have been completed for that particular version, it becomes unsupported. There won't be any fixes or patches, not even for security and using such a version would mean you are making yourself vulnerable.

As of now, 

Version 5.6;
Version 7.0;
Version 7.1;
Version 7.2;

Have reached their end of life, meaning they are no longer supported, yet many sites are still on them. So, which are the versions that are supported and should be ideally used? The answer is 7.3 and above. 

The image includes a table and a graph, both depicting the supported versions of PHP.Source: php.net

Any version that is still actively supported would be the only one ideal for your web projects. Talking about projects under the Drupal flagship, the same three supported versions are the only ones recommended by the CMS; proving that there is truth to what I am saying. This is exactly also why Drupal is able to avoid the misconception that it is difficult to use and has stayed relevant with changing times.

Versions of PHP supported by Drupal are listed in a table.Source: Drupal.org

Taking the supported PHP versions under the microscope

I have said a number of times that using a supported version is ideal, now let’s understand the why. Yes, they would get new updates, fixes and patches quite frequently, but that is not it; these versions are also perfect to use because they have features that are unfound in the previous versions. It’s like being on Android 9, you are missing out on a lot of features that Android 10 is powered with and there is no advantage in that. 

Let’s look at each of the supported PHP versions to understand this. 

Version 7.3 

The third version of PHP 7, version 7.3 was released in December, 2018 and is said to be faster than its predecessor. There weren’t changes in this version, but the improvements that were made proved quite helpful. 

  • The 7.3 came with more flexible heredoc and nowdoc syntaxes; 
  • The 7.3 came with multibyte string functions; 
  • And the 7.3 also had Argon2 password hash enhancements; 

All of these made this release better than the last.

Version 7.4 

Released almost an year after the launch 7.3, PHP 7.4 brought along significant in two key areas; 

  • Performance, by adding the preload functions to speed up loading significantly; 
  • And code readability, with features like typed properties and custom object serialisation. 

PHP 7.4 also marked the end of PHP 7 as this was the last version before 8 came along.

The Newest Kid on the Block: PHP Version 8 

PHP 8.0.0 is the latest version of the scripting language. Released on 26 November, 2020. This was a major release for PHP coming almost three years after version 7 was released. Although there are a lot of new features added to this new release, speed optimisation that was introduced in PHP 7 will continue improving on it. 

JIT Compiler, union types, type annotations and reflection signatures are some of the new features found in this release. Here is a video highlighting and explaining the prominent new additions in PHP 8.

[embedded content]

What will the update mean for you?

Up until now, you must have gotten a fair idea that updating PHP will be beneficial for your web project. Yes, sometimes updating can seem like a mistake, but that isn’t the case with PHP, not in the least. 

There are the additional features that were lacking in the preceding version of the update, you definitely benefit from that. Apart from that bonus, three discernible reasons to update PHP that should make the process all the more worthwhile.

Heightened Security 

The paramount benefit of always updating PHP is security. With every update, you’ll be more secure in the site because that running version is going to be fully supported and patched frequently for any and all security vulnerabilities. 

As we’ve already discussed, as versions come to their end of life, they do not get patches and fixes, making your project unprotected from threats. 

A graph illustrates the security vulnerabilities of PHP from 2000 to 2019.Source: CVE Details

Looking at this graph, it is clear that PHP experiences security vulnerabilities, with 2016 being the year marking the highest level at 106. 

A line graph depicts the types of security vulnerabilities in PHP.Source: CVE Details

Talking about vulnerabilities by type, denial of service, overflow and execute code are the ones topping the ranks. An update is what will prevent these security threats from being a threat and if you don’t update, you’ll have to be extra diligent about them. Is that something you want to do instead of working towards achieving your goals? I doubt it.

Perpetual Support

Then comes support, which becomes almost absent in older versions of PHP. Much like every other advancement we see, whenever a new one rolls by, interest in its older version starts diminishing and it is understandable. For PHP, this diminished interest means that the preceding versions would not get the kind of support from the community that it used to and its compatibility would lessen.

Think about it from the developers’ perspective, since they are the ones creating plugins and themes for every version. When they can devote their entire time and attention in creating something wonderful for a new version, do you think they’ll be interested in doing the same for something that is almost antiquated? I do not think so. 

There is also the concern of time, developers become occupied with the newer versions, so they do not get the time to oversee support for the older versions, making them somewhat incompatible for newer browsers and general development. 

So, when you keep updating PHP, you will continue to get support for it in the form of new plugins and themes and any issues you may face will be resolved quite quickly. You won’t ever see a 2000 comment thread for an issue in a new version, since there will be perpetual support to fix that.

Superior Performance

New technology will always outshine old in terms of performance, right? The same is true for PHP versions. When you update, security and support benefits would be there obviously, however, the more apparent benefit would be the one related to performance. You will be able to tell the difference almost immediately. 

Things that you had to work for diligently to achieve will come out of the box. From better latency rates to being able to handle more requests per second, everything would improve when you update.

Here are two images that show PHP Benchmarks for performance in version 5.6 and 8.0 and the improvements in performance are more than evident between the two versions.

The performance analysis of PHP 5.6 is shown.The performance analysis of PHP 8.0 is shown.Source: PHP Benchmarks

Then, why are the older versions still active?

When an update brings along such benefits, it should be a no brainer. Yet there are umpteen sites that are still on the older versions of PHP. 

The usage statistics of PHP versions are shown in a bar graph.Source: W3Techs

The fact that more than one-third of PHP sites are still on version is kind of sad and hard to digest even. I mean version 5.6 reached its end of life on 31 December 2018, almost two and a half years ago, yet it is still active without any support.

So, why is that? Why are these sites keeping themselves vulnerable when they can be secure? Let’s try to understand the reasoning. 

The obliviousness about the update 

The foremost reason for not updating is the obliviousness surrounding the update itself. The thing about web projects and websites in general is that, although they are built by developers, the people running them on the daily may not have knowledge about its technical sides. All they are concerned about is the fact that the site is running and functional and that it looks good. 

For these non-technical site owners, updating PHP isn’t something to be concerned about. Half the time they are oblivious about the fact and even if they do know it, they’d not pay much heed to it. Many a time, it is the developers and web hosts, who have to push the site owners for the update and they don’t always win that battle based on the W3Techs statistics.

The investment of time

If we talk about updating PHP to version 8.0.0, it is fairly easy to do so. However, that ease is contingent upon the code being updated. If the code is up-to-date, you’ll have an easy-breezy update. If not, you’ll be looking at a huge investment of time and resources. And that is the second reason why sites don’t update.

  • Developers who have older plugins and themes will have to put in a lot of time and effort to update their code because the newer version would not be compatible with an outdated code. 
  • Then comes the testing that needs to be done to ensure the compatibility of the update, which is quite extensible because there will be a great deal of plugins to test.

The apprehension surrounding the update’s effects

Lastly, it is the apprehension that comes with the thought of the update that makes site owners immensely hesitant about updating. 

What if the update breaks the site?
What if the update results in additional support tickets?
What if the update makes the site stop functioning altogether?

These what if pose a massive roadblock even before the road to update has begun. Fortunately, all of them are unwanted and misguided. 

Remember the previous reason, it talked about updating the code before updating to a newer version. If you update without making the code compatible your site will break, there isn’t a shadow of doubt about it. 

Apart from that the update won’t affect your site in a negative light. Upon updating PHP on a site built on a CMS like Drupal, you’ll instantly see an improvement in performance and that isn’t something to be apprehensive about, rather you should be looking forward to it. Learn more about how keeping the dependencies like PHP has helped Drupal 9, the best version of it so far, to make upgrade from previous version simpler.

How do you go about the update?

Now that we’ve discussed everything concerning the PHP update and have established that it is more than imperative to keep PHP updated, we have come to the final aspect of the process, which is how to update PHP.

The update is done in two parts, one is a prerequisite and the second is performing the actual update itself.

Checking PHP version compatibility

The first part of the PHP update is to check whether your site is even compatible with the version you are trying to update to, in regards to the themes and plugins, they should be updated to their latest version. This is also one of the reasons I mentioned in the previous section as to why sites don’t update PHP.

You would need your developers for this, since they’d be the ones who would add or fix support for the version to be updated. There is also the option of choosing alternate plugins, if that is what you prefer. 

Once your themes, plugins and current code is updated, you’ll be ready to perform the update. 

A little side note; You should remember though, that updating the staging site before updating the production site is the better way to go. This is because if you do encounter any mishaps during the update, you’ll be able to fix them on the staging site without any effect on the live site.

Choosing the suitable way to update 

The actual update can be done in three ways depending on the build of your site and the kind of tools you have access to.

Through the cPanel 

If you have access to a cPanel or your host provides access to the same, you can simply go to the control panel, log in and change the version of PHP to the one you want; it’s as simple as that.

Through your own server 

You can update PHP using the migration guide provided by php.net, that is if you are the administrator of your own server. This guide covers the migration procedures from version 5.5 to 8.0 and clarifies all the details related to the update from new features to backward incompatible changes and deprecated features.

Through a web host 

If the aforementioned ways don’t work for you, that is you don’t have access to the cPanel and you are also not the administrator of your site, then you can simply ask your web host to perform the update for you. 

Conclusion 

There comes a point in life when you have to say goodbye to what has been normal for you because something else has taken its place. And it’s almost never a bad thing. Has anyone ever felt sad after updating their iphone? I don’t think I know anybody who has, maybe a little upset about the hefty bill, but never about the product. 

The same is the story with PHP updates. It may seem like a daunting task to undertake, much like paying a thousand dollars for the iphone, but in the end, it’ll be you, who’ll be basking in the benefits of the update. Is that not something you’d want?

May 10 2021
May 10

Digital experiences have become an integral part of everyone’s life today. Be it the provider of the experience, being the businesses or the receiver of those experiences, which would be the users; both benefit a great deal from a sound and seamless digital experience. 

For the business to provide an impressive digital experience and the user to enjoy it, a DXP or a Digital Experience Platform is somewhat necessary. Through the software’s management of multiple channels, devices and every user touchpoint, it is able to provide personalised user experiences. Its forte is its ability to converge multiple technologies to provide the best possible experience to the user, making their journey a memorable one. With the use of the latest technology, the people building the experience are also pretty gleeful since they get to explore whatever is new.

So, if I had to define a DXP, I’d say it is a platform that is equipped to handle and deliver all the digital experiences of an organisation and perpetually work towards enhancing them. And if I had to mention DXP’s formal definition, I would quote Gartner

A DXP is an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.

In this blog, we’ll be talking about these Digital Experience Platforms and all that they come equipped with, however, we’ll be focusing on a particular category, which is open source DXPs. Before I get into that it would be more appropriate to compare open source DXPs to their counterparts, which would be proprietary. Let’s get started.

Open Source DXP in Comparison with Proprietary DXP

There is a table that shows different aspects of digital experience.Source: Infosys

Based on the above image, you can clearly see that a DXP encompasses every aspect of the digital experience that an organisation may want to be taken care of. 

From user touchpoints to targeted campaigns; 
From content services to social services; 
From commerce to searches; 

DXPs are pretty versatile in their offerings. 

Now that we have a basic understanding of what a DXP is and what it does, let’s look at two of its major classifications, being open source and proprietary software. 

In essence, the difference between open and closed source software lies in the ownership. Open source by definition means a platform that is open to everyone, everyone can use it and anyone can contribute to it and there are no restrictions in the form of licencing fees or other charges. On the contrary, proprietary software, or DXP in our case, would be closed in plain terms. It’s a software that would be used by people who pay for it and the majority of the development comes through the proprietor himself.

Talking in terms of DXP, there are three main differences between an open source and a proprietary DXP apart from the licensing fees and charges. Let’s look at them. 

Parameter  Open Source DXP  Closed DXP  Licensing fees Not required, it is free to use Mandatory Choice  Abundance of choices; you can pick and choose the features you want to use The choices are limited; you have to use the DXP in areas that were already optimised Integrations  Integrates seamlessly with other software Integrations are minimal  Growth  Has a faster growth rate due to heightened flexibility  Fast, but not as fast as the open source


Open VS Closed Choice

The first major difference between these two categories is the level of choice they offer. If I talk about the open source DXP, the choices are plenty. You’d never be locked inside the software. You do not even have to use the entirety of the software, you can simply select the aspects which require improvements and leave the rest. There is also the option of customisation, you can build on top of the DXP you are using without anyone questioning you. You could use it for one of these or all of them.

Web content management; 
Web personalisation; 
Data and analytics; 
Marketing automation.

Now taking the closed DXP into consideration the choice is pretty limited. You choose a closed vendor and you are locked inside of their software. There isn’t much or even leeway to explore outside that locked space. You are all in. 

Open VS Closed Integrations 

Next difference is in regards to the integrations. An open source DXP can also be described as a combination of multiple products provided by multiple vendors. Using a DXP like Drupal, which is open source, you can integrate your digital experience with a platform like SalesForce with ease.

For the closed DXP, the story is a little different as the integrations are pretty limited as it is a one stop destination. You will find the majority of the services a DXP can provide, but they’ll be from that one vendor only.

A closed DXP is like one single brand, wherein you’ll find the products and services of that brand only, while the open source is like a supermarket, wherein you can find the products of almost all the major brands.

Open VS Closed Growth 

Finally, the open and closed DXP’s growth also paces at different rates. This is because of the kind of flexibility and contributions they have respectively. 

The open source DXP would be immensely flexible because of its open foundation. This means that it’ll always be open for adaptation as per the changing market requirements and its growth seamless and quick. Add to this the fact that there is an entire community to contribute and make necessary improvements into the software. 

In comparison, the closed DXPs also continually evolve. There are certainly improvements made to the software. However, because it's not open, its level of flexibility isn’t as high as its counterpart. Perhaps that is why the open source software DXP is making strides in the closed spaces as an alternative to them.

Why should you choose Open Source DXP?

So, you know that an open DXP is quite different from a closed one. Since you can only choose one of them for your organisation’s digital presence and consumer experience, you will have to pick one. Based on the previous section, I am sure you would have come closer to a decision. To make it even easier, let me tell you about all the benefits of an open source DXP.

Open Source is malleable to the future 

The only thing we can say for certain about the future is the fact that it is uncertain and that there is high plausibility of change. Future cannot be predicted, so we should not even try. However, what we can do is make ourselves malleable enough to adapt to whatever the future might hold. 

And that is what open source DXP entails with its API-first infrastructure that has the ability to integrate with the future. Of course, by future I mean the tools and frameworks that would reign in the future. Open DXP’s technology stack is indeed ready for the future because it is always ready to adapt. 

An open source DXP’s malleability also helps in improving consumer experience. This is because it makes it easy for businesses to create solutions in accordance with the changing consumer needs. The said solution would provide the most optimal results if it is created with speed and here the open architecture comes extremely handy.

Finally, with open source DXP you have the power to eliminate and replace certain parts of the platform that either do not align with your strategy or are hindering your growth. This makes it highly efficient in the worst of times. To know more, read about the impact of open source in Covid-19, how open source remains recession-free and why large enterprises are leaning towards open source.

Open source lets you innovate to your heart’s desire 

Collaboration; 
Partnership; 
Shared goals; 
United ambitions; 

All of these mean mutual success, all of these mean more power for better innovations and all of that is what open source stands for. Open source is where innovation thrives. Let’s understand the why. 

Have you heard of JAMstack? It stands for JavaScript, APIs and Markup. Back in 2018, it made quite a noise in the realm of marketing site theming. Ever since then it has become the go-to design stack for developers. This stack of modern technologies gives the developer the room to innovate and spurs them on constantly, the results enhanced developer velocity. It creates just the right environment with its new tools and quickness for more innovation. 

If I were to talk in plain terms, I'd say that because open source does not confine the developers with one vendor and only its resources, there is a lot of freedom to innovate. It creates an open culture that allows the people in it to build as much as they want individually and with partnerships through the open connections of open source.

Open source elevates consumer experiences 

Today consumers do not have just one single touchpoint with the business. They can connect to it through mobile applications, IoT, voice assistants and even chatbots. And the consumer expects context awareness in all of these. So, what is the solution?

With an open DXP, you can deliver content that is created by content authors without special emphasis on the channel it’ll be used on. This sounds bad, but it, in fact, is a good thing as it allows content creators and front-end developers to create pieces that are aligned with the target audience’s needs.

Once a piece of content is created, it can be repurposed for the platform and its context can also be altered and further delivered across various channels. This eases the complexity of working with an open framework and makes content quite composable. Moreover, the open APIs make the centralisation of content consistent throughout the channels and devices. 

The result is a holistic consumer experience that has the consumer in control of his interaction with you.

Open source empowers consumer data 

Every time a consumer interacts with you, he leaves some information behind. It’s like meeting someone in real life, with every encounter you will get to know the person more and not the other way around, you can’t be asking the person to introduce themselves every time you meet, that’ll be rude on so many levels. Yet this is what happens when your digital presence has consumer data that is scattered in various departments in data silos that are often inaccessible.

An open source DXP comes equipped with an open Customer Data Platform, which would help you capitalise on the consumer information you already have with you. Consumer data from e-commerce, from customer support systems and CRMs gets accumulated and organised at one place, so that you can actually utilise the information you have about your consumers. These consumer insights are immensely helpful in building forward and an open DXP helps in that. 

Open source has room for microservices 

Imagine a suite of lightweight mechanisms like an HTTP resource API that would be responsible for running many small services within an organisation as one single application. This is called a microservices architecture and it is provided by the open source DXP.

You might think what is the point? 

The points are three benefits you will get from this architecture. 

  1. You’ll get a better handle on your technology solutions; 
  2. You’ll be able to enhance your productivity because of that; 
  3. And you’ll also be able to achieve better scalability as the architecture will fit perfectly to your long term organisational goals. 

Open source caters to commerce needs 

For the gazillionth time, because an open source DXP is open, it can better cater to your commerce needs. Let’s understand this with a comparison to its closed counterpart. 

A closed DXP would have an already established, integrated and rigid commerce platform that you cannot mess with, while an open source DXP could integrate itself with any commerce platform that you want based on your needs. 

So, when the need to add a commerce capability to your digital platform arises, which it will, you would be glad to have chosen an open source DXP. This is because open source is never tightly coupled, so, you wouldn't have to compromise and adjust to the rigidness of a particular platform, rather you can stand your ground on your needs and capitalise on the platform that aligns with your needs.

Open source offers better security 

Security breaches and data leaks are far too common for anyone’s liking. And when you consider a software that is open to everyone, the threat of these security attacks should be all the more obvious, right? Wrong. 

Open source DXPs are far more secure than closed DXPs and the only reason for that is their openness. With an open DXP, you would always be aware of the vulnerabilities and can take action to improve on it, while a closed DXP, being a proprietary software would consider not telling about those vulnerabilities merely because it’d lose money. You decide, which is better?

Open source saves money 

When you choose an open source DXP, you choose to save money. This is because of two reasons. 

One is because it acts as central management tool that helps you manage multisite as well as give you flexibility, security, control and efficiency it needs. Once you get that, there would be minimal chances of duplicacy of resources, be it in IT or marketing. And that is going to be a worthy investment.

Secondly, an open source solution is a combination of microservices and SaaS, which essentially translates to you paying for only the services you choose and not a penny more.

How does Drupal fair as an Open DXP?

We know what a digital experience platform is, we also know what an open source digital experience platform is, now we’ll talk about a particular DXP that is open source and its Drupal. Having worked with Drupal myself, I can say for sure that it is up there in the list of most impressive DXPs and being a fan, I have to talk about it.

An open source platform that has been around for two decades and is still running strong, Drupal is meant to create the most amazing digital experiences and the support and contributions of its vast community makes that a possibility every day. 

If I had to compare Drupal to the benefits of open source DXP that we discussed in the previous section, I’d say that it fairs pretty well. Drupal as an open source DXP is always to work. Let’s see why. 

API-first build  

The best part about Drupal as an open DXP is its API-first architecture. This makes the creation of multi-channel experiences quite fulfilling. With an API-first approach, Drupal can decouple itself and provide room for new technologies like Vue, React and Angular. You will have the option of selecting the best-in-class products to integrate and build your digital infrastructure, adding the freedom of innovation for your developers. 

Extensible 

Drupal can very easily accommodate your needs and goals and that is what makes it extensible. You can have a small organisation or a global one, Drupal will be able to help you architect your digital presence the way you want, build it and expand it until you keep growing. 

Drupal’s modular architecture makes it all the more extensible. With upgrades being equivalent to installing a new module, building and improving a Drupal site’s digital experience is never going to be a mountainous task. 

Then there is the fact that Drupal, as an open source, allows customisation. You can very easily build your own DXP on top of Drupal. There are umpteen open source DXP vendors, who have actually done that. 

Community 

Drupal has a community of over a million and growing. With that many Drupalists in the world, you can be assured that there would be an answer to any Drupal conundrum you may be stuck in. Upon raising an issue, you can always expect the Drupal veterans and contributors to respond and help you out. The contributions from the Drupalist not only make Drupal a successful DXP, but also ensure that it is reliable. 

Here is a video that will help you understand the role of Drupal as an open source DXP. 

[embedded content]


Nobody can deny that Drupal is a powerful DXP, however, denying that it doesn’t have any flaw would be unfair too. 

  • Certain advanced features like creating customer profiles or building a neural network become a difficult task; 
  • A/B testing and introducing personalisation is also something Drupal isn’t renowned for; 
  • CDP, an important practical capability for a DXP is one that is missing from the DXP.

I wouldn’t say that these features make Drupal unworthy or hard to work with, not in the least. However, they are something that need to be mentioned. 

Conclusion 

Having a digital presence has become pivotal today. However, having a digital presence that does not leave its mark on your consumer is as good as not having one. A DXP is what will help you leave that mark and lure your target audience towards you. And if that DXP is open source that mark would be all the more deeper and you’ll be all the more delighted because of it and I am pretty sure you’d like that.

May 05 2021
May 05
“Your time is limited. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Steve Jobs

A personification of this quote is Vinit Kumar, Technical Lead at OpenSense Labs. He had started off as an aeronautical engineer, but life took several turns and he somehow ended up being a Drupal developer! Let’s skim through a story that talks about conventions, ups and downs, and most importantly, following your dreams.

Q : Hi Vinit! So let’s start with talking about your education. Why did you choose aeronautical engineering in the first place? 

A : I had been pursuing aeronautical engineering more for its professional aspect, and always had more interest in graphic designing and consequently, web development. While still in college, I took up a course in graphic designing and also took up some commissioned projects that were offered to me by the teacher himself. While working on these projects, soon I realized that web development and graphics go hand in hand, and started trying my hands on development as well.

Q : I see. Had you ever developed interest in programming beforehand or was it a spur of the moment decision to transform? 
A : It was a rather extended transformation process. Pritam has been my friend since we were in school, and he was the one who was more into web development. During the years I spent being an aeronautical engineer, the aeronautics sector was not looking good - a big airline like Kingfisher was on the verge of closing. It was rather chaotic! Pritam knew about my interest in graphics and web development, and insisted that I pursue that instead - as the web was only going to expand in the upcoming years and moreover, it was something that had spiked my interest since the very beginning. Pritam helped with the basics when I was still a fresher in the domain. Subsequently, I joined a company in Hyderabad as a developer, but left within a month because my skills weren’t competent enough to keep up with the profile. After that, I brushed up my knowledge a bit and joined another company where I worked the night shift for a year. By the end of the year, due to consistent hard work and toil, I made a rather smooth switch and felt that my life was finally getting in order.
 

four pictures place side by side comparing Vinit Kumar's journey from being an aeronautical engineer to a Drupal developer


Q : As you said, you left the first company that you had joined within a month as you lacked the skills to keep working. What made you pursue the field despite not finding success anytime sooner?
A : I think that the approach makes all the difference. I wasn’t bummed by the fact that I didn’t have the supposed skillset but rather took all that as a part of my learning curve. I appeared for numerous interviews and all the questions that I couldn’t answer, I would go home and prepare those. Hence, I accepted that I was still learning. The added bonus was that web development was something that I actually wanted to do - so work never felt like work. It felt like a yearlong training procedure.

Q : That is such a great perspective! While we’re still in the topic of transformation, was there a moment of instigation that prompted you to switch from aeronautical engineering to Drupal development? How easy/difficult was it to take the call?
A : Sometimes, an outsider’s perspective is required to make the picture clearer. While working in Bangalore in a job dealing in technical publication (publication of different kinds of user manuals for the maintenance of aircrafts), I occasionally used to skip going to work as an engineer to stay home and create websites. On one such event, one of my friends realised that I had been sitting creating the website since early morning when he was going to work - and was still on it by the time he returned in the evening. I still remember when he looked at me, a little astonished, and said that I should go on and pursue something that I really wanted to. It was a turning point in my life. I called Pritam that very day and left for Hyderabad - where I took up my first job as a developer.                                                                         

Q : So that is how it started! When I look back at your journey - that has eventually led you to becoming the tech lead, how has the experience with Drupal been so far?
A : It has been working pretty well for me. I still consider myself a student in the domain and focus on learning more than anything else. I have definitely grown a lot in the past 8 years and gathered knowledge in every step - and I want to keep it that way.

Q : Do you ever wonder how different life would have been had you remained an aeronautical engineer? 
A : Quite different. I don’t really have any regrets though, I followed my heart and landed in a decent place. I don’t think that any of the jobs I had taken up in aeronautical engineering really spoke to me as much as Drupal development has done so far. Not once in these years have I been prompted to go back to become an aeronautical engineer.

Q : Glad it worked out for you. Lastly, what would you tell someone who wants to make a career switch like you did?
A : I’ll tell them the same thing that my friend had told me - follow your heart and it will lead you to the right path.

While we may believe that following conventional guidelines is the ‘safer’ way to live life, Vinit also highlights that we can step onto different boats and examine the best one for ourselves while we are still young and agile. There’s a time suitable for experimenting as well - we just need to identify it!

For more such interviews on The Unlikely Drupalists series, read about a/an:

DJ who became a web developer

Electrical engineer who became a frontend developer

May 04 2021
May 04

The world we live in is pretty dynamic, it keeps evolving. Talking strictly in the technological sense, things that enjoy immense popularity today stand a chance of being considered obsolete tomorrow. Then there are the advancements in popular trends, which happen to be eminent today and tomorrow, but the eminence is enjoyed by its newer version.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you don’t consider the acclimation period, which can become tiring, but once that is out of the way, we are almost always thankful for the change. 

Take Drupal 8, for instance, upgrading from its previous version was a massive undertaking, and the fact that Drupal 8 was a whole other ball game than Drupal 7, made the acclimation process quite difficult to be honest. However, D8’s new features and capabilities made the difficulties worth it. Having worked on D8, I am speaking from personal experience. 

2021 saw the emergence of some of the most astounding technological advancements that deserve to be awed at. So, today we would be discussing some of these that come as popular trends in technology and change the way we do and see things. Being from the Drupal community, I would also be co-relating these advancements with Drupal and see how we can amalgamate the trend and the CMS and make it work for us, as Drupalists. Drupal, being an open source software, is extensive by nature and making it scope wider to align with the latest trends is a challenge that not many would be opposed to. So, let’s begin getting familiar with the trends and see if Drupal can be used to capitalise them. 

The Remote Environments’ Charm 

The first trend I will be talking about is one that has affected all of us. The phrase ‘remote working’ used to seem like a far-fetched idea in the pre-pandemic times, but now it has become a reality, a reality that would be here to stay for much longer than we anticipated.

Remote environments have become the trend in the tech industry and the fact that these are beneficial to everyone involved in working, the boss, the employee and the customer, is the reason for its longevity. Collaboration strategies massively change in remote environments and work pretty well for the organisation as it improves productivity.

Let’s start with the bosses of the tech industry, the first hard hitting fact of the pandemic for this sector was the realisation of the inadequacies of its digital infrastructure. The initial phase of remote working saw the employers rushing to provide even the most basic of infrastructural needs. The digital cracks that were hidden in the past became quite blatant in the pandemic. From dealing with heightened consumer traffic online through scaling and building resilience to adding features and getting them into production, every business aspect has been made possible through remote environments. 

Employees are happy that they are able to avoid the hour-long commute, as many as 70% will continue to work remotely on a permanent basis.

As for the clients, they are able to reap the benefits of the global technological network from their homes. The barriers for digitally gaining access to industry experts are no longer visible and the customers are capitalising on that. Getting an expert on a virtual call is so much more convenient for both parties than a physical meeting, the chances of which would have been slim, regardless of the pandemic.

Then there are the virtual tech conferences that are a win for everyone, the consumers, the employees and the bosses. Talking from personal experience, I was pretty upset when I couldn’t go to the DrupalCon Amsterdam 2019. So, when the first ever virtual DrupalCon was announced in July 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, I was beyond thrilled, because I was able to take part in it from my home. 

Of course, there are also the environmental and social benefits of remote working. Less carbon emissions, more renewable resources, less traffic and consequently less number of road accidents, all say that remote environments’ charm cannot be taken lightly.

In MIT Professor Tom Malone’s words, 

The current crisis has accelerated us forwards a decade in terms of acceptance of remote working, and there is no going back.

What’s Next in Cloud?

Cloud isn’t a new trend in the market. AWS, Azure, AliCloud and GCP have been the flag bearers in this domain, making the transition to cloud quite seamless. Servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence, everything is provided for on the cloud. With a lion’s share of organisations using cloud based services, its eminence is staring at us glaringly. 

There are two trends in the cloud domain that deserve attention. 

Infrastructure-as-code 

To define infrastructure-as-code simply would come out as the automation of infrastructure and the consequent management of the said automation. In a broader sense, it would be defined as the practice of configuring and managing infrastructure such as networks or machine readable files. 

Through this concept, developers are able to supply IT environments with multiple lines of code and also gain the ability to deploy in minutes, rather than the ages it used to take manually. 

With recent improvements in IaC, it is more likely to deliver better outcomes as its ecosystem is growing. However, being a relatively new technique, it has certain disadvantages including inconsistencies in its tooling along with paradoxical approaches. New ideologies are still surfacing around it, infrastructure as software by Pulumi or infrastructure as data by Hightower are two of them. The way IaC will come out in the future is highly anticipated. 

Pipeline-as-code

Coming to pipeline-as-code, which essentially means defining the deployment pipeline through code, rather than the configuration of a running CI/CD tool. With organisations moving towards automation in all across their environments, especially the development infrastructure, pipeline-as-code would become a need. 

LambdaCD, Drone, GoCD and Concourse act as resources to make pipeline-as-code work for you. 

I’ll culminate this trend with Drupal. In DrupalCon Vienna 2017, a session took place that talked about using Drupal to capitalise on infrastructure as code as well as pipeline as code. In a session during the event, the implementation of Continuous Delivery pipelines in immutable infrastructure was discussed. DevOps and general tools like Docker, Packer, Terraform and Ansible amongst others can make that possible. And all of this can be achieved by extending Drupal. You will find a lot of interesting details in this video.

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The Realisation of Data and Analytics

Data has become one of the most important commodities for businesses and the analytics to understand and generate lucrative insights from that data is even more important. 

When we consider data and analytics, predictive analytics is often an integral part of it. Building websites that are able to capitalise the notion and create dynamic content which operates on the user's browsing history and site relative behaviour is garnering a lot of interest. The thing is building such a site requires a host of software to work together. R, Google Analytics along with Drupal can make that happen. For ‘the how,’ you would have to watch this video.

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With a majority of the CIOs believing that data and analytics will start shaping their business in the future, it won’t be wrong to believe that many trends of today are also in line with this concept. Big Data and AI have become crucial for sectors like finance, wherein the assessment of potential loans and investment is done through the analytics. It is suffice to say that today, businesses, from private to government, are becoming more data-driven by the day. To make data safer, data residency, privacy and its usage are accounting for a regulatory environment that is both dynamic and complex in its mandates, making organisations steer in the right direction. 

Associated with data and analytics are concepts of surveillance capitalism and surveillance state, which use surveillance and manipulation to drive power and profits. With COVID-19, such surveillance technologies have been adopted by many countries including China and Israel. Once the pandemic is clear, there is a high chance that these emergency measures will remain. Learn more on how better data strategies can help capitalise on consumer behaviour.

The Modern and Updated Core 

At the heart of a consistent output of every business, you’d find its core processes. So, saying that they are important would be understating them. Having core processes that fairly rudimentary is not going to be enough in 2021. 

With a heightened level of digital transformation, more expectations from our users and an increased use of data-intensive algorithms being implemented in the core systems everywhere, be it the front, middle or backend, there is progression towards uplifting the core from being basic. 

Core modernisation is quite discernible as a trend in 2021, and the development and delivery of the advanced ERPs and legacy programs is its proof. To further substantiate it, think of the kind of interactions the consumers want, instantaneous and tailored would be the words used to describe them. That is why core modernisation has become a need, not only for consumer relationships, but also for digital finance and real-time supply chains. Refreshing and reengineering ERP and legacy systems are the first step towards achieving this. Doing this would allow you to get to new levels of agility, automation, scalability and security.  

The Rise of Digital Reality Technologies

Digital technologies are becoming more real with the passing time. AR/VR, voice interfaces, speech recognition, ambient computing, 360° video along with immersive technologies have enabled businesses to provide a more real user experience. 

Terms like natural, intuitive and imperceptible are used to describe these technologies and their consequent engagement with the users.

Being able to experience a situation without actually being in that situation has become possible through virtual reality. The Massachusetts State University’s VR tour is one example of virtual reality and Drupal combo. A react front-end, Drupal backend and JSON API made that possible. Look for yourself.

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The same can be done for your employees and workers, wherein AR and Drupal can provide the workers a 3D view of the procedure, leading to an elevated level of productivity. Imagine a shopping application that becomes your assistant inside the store, from telling the route to reaching the products you want to scanning them and telling you the price, that’s augmented reality in its prime. With Drupal 8, building that application becomes a possibility.

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The reality of digital experience in 2021 is deepening with emotional connections with consumers and employees alike. This brings to the next  trend, which is the human-factor of these experiences achieved through AI.

The Humanness of Artificial Intelligence

The term artificial intelligence is not something that many of us haven’t heard or even experienced ourselves. It has been a concept that has been around for a while and we have seen its marvels and have been impressed by them. 

In the context of Drupal, the digital sphere has numerous plausibilities with regards to Artificial Intelligence.

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And there is more; 

But what’s more? These aspects, although impressive, don't excite us or our consumers anymore. To bring back the excitement, the concept of driving human emotions, feelings and moods into AI has become a trend. 

This AI approach emphasises on designing for humans, meaning the focus would be one human and emotion-led experiences, which would then be curated through AI technologies; a total 180 from the traditional designs. Human emotions like empathy, trust and feeling complex emotions would be the star of human experiences. 

For this, 

  • Neuroscientific research would be conducted, including EEG, eye tracking, facial coding and implicit association testing amongst others.
  • Human centred design would be implemented, which would focus on the human, his beliefs, values, feelings and ambitions along with ethnographic research and neuroscience to understand the human’s needs and wants on a deeper level.
  • Cognitive and affective technologies would come to play, to stress ethical considerations of the design and align it with the organisation’s values.

Vision systems, voice recognition, natural language generation, natural language processing, voice stress analysis and sentiment analysis are some of the AI technologies being used to deliver human experiences. With these at work, a phone call to the automated-caller would only placate the consumer/employee and not agitate him/her further. 

The Next Gen of User Experience

When a user interacts with us, there are certain actions that make it possible. Clicking, pointing, swiping and scrolling are some of them. As you may have experienced yourself, these mediums of interactions are evolving. A user can experience what you want him to without these actions, speaking and gesturing are what I am referring to. And with advancements, thinking would become a part of it too. This technology is referred to as ambient user experience. 

It is when technology is used in accordance with consumer data to provide a seamless interaction for the user, which may not be dependent on human touch. 

With new and improved devices being launched every second, the user has become somewhat dependent on them. This dependence would only grow with time and devices would have to provide more. 

  • The future would look something like this; 
  • More prominence would be given to technology, all the while making devices smaller, yet more powerful. 
  • Proactiveness would signify all consumer interactions. 
  • Neurofeedback technology would become ubiquitous, making direct brain and neural interactions an everyday occurrence.
  • Devices in general would be more connected and context-aware at home, office and everywhere else we go.

The Transactional Blockchain 

In 2021, blockchains and their use is going to gain traction. The reason being the numerous benefits these digital ledgers come with.

Improved transparency; 
Better security; 
Accurate traceability; 
Reduced costs;
And enhanced speed being just a few of them.

Blockchain initiatives are advancing in every sector of the business world. It is not just limited to financial services and fintech companies anymore, rather from government to life sciences and healthcare, from technology to media and telecommunications, every major sector is trying to lead in blockchain development. 

Blockchain are usually fully decentralised p2p architectures, however, there is another architecture that is being explored. A semi-decentralised architecture, with the same benefits of trusted transactions can be built. Here Drupal can provide assistance, its User Accounts can be used for that.

Talking further about Drupal, its Ethereum Blockchain Module that integrates with Ethereum, an open source blockchain platform programmable through smart contracts, has made the CMS leverage this technology. Watch this video to get more insights on both the Drupal aspects in Blockchain technology.

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The Method of Agile and DevOps

The way businesses operate is also changing and 2021 is bringing with it the convergence of technology and business strategies. This has brought on the trend of development methodologies like Agile and DevOps. 

Today, providing operational excellence has become equivalent to driving value creation. Businesses are doing one to achieve the other. There is a tangible shift in priorities from delivering projects to the results that project would bring. Hence, the adoption of methods like Agile and DevOps has become pivotal.

Version control, automation and testing tools, backup and disaster recovery along with sound security practises are just a few of them. All of these make the management of servers and other infrastructure pretty convenient as part of an organisations daily operations.

The best part about these DevOps techniques is that they can be used with other web applications and Drupal is one of them. If you are looking to widen your knowledge span of DevOps and its use alongside Drupal, this video would be the one to watch.

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The Physics of Quantum

Quantum is not just a physics concept anymore, it is being used everywhere or more like quantum computing is being leveraged in every corner of the business world. 

Be it producing breakthroughs in science; 
Be it implementing machine learning to get to illnesses sooner; 
Be it creating devices and structure that are far more efficient than in the past; 
Be it promoting financial strategies that will be helpful until a person retires; 
Or be it generating algorithms that would enable the resources to at our disposal quickly; 

Quantum computing is becoming omnipresent and its ability to process information and execute computations that are not only unhackable, but also have the ability to concentrate tech is probably the reason for it being in vogue.

With quantum computing, there won’t be any technical constraints that often hold back both data and material scientists. Unlike the traditional computing’s use of 0s and 1s, quantum computing relies on its own quantum bits to propel change through manipulation of single particles, which would have the potential of solving highly complex problems. 

The Accessible Version of Programming 

Let’s look at numbers, there would be billions of people using the web and all of its offerings and by offerings I mean the numerous websites and applications we, as users, use. Now, what do you think would be the number of expert developers and programmers making these experiences for the user? That number would be much-much lower than users. 

The talent pool required to build programs is scarce to be honest. If we were to be dependent on it to create everything we have on the web, we might not actually have it. So, how come we do? The answer lies in accessible programming. 

If you have heard of spreadsheets and low-code platforms, you will have a fair idea of what I am going to say. These are means for novice programmers or even non-programmers to create, store and manipulate data without the need for a long development process involving the scarce talent pool I just mentioned. The pre-built components and configurations help in future accelerating the development process without the need of coding. 

You might think that this is a great new trend, empowering non-programmers to tap into the programming world and create something on their own, and it truly is; however, I wouldn’t say that it is a new trend. 

  • Back in the 60s, when COBOL was created as a programming language, it was made to resemble the english so that the non-programmers could work with it. 
  • Then there is Drupal with its D7AX, which is a community of sorts, wherein developers pledge to create modules that adhere to accessibility standards and by simply installing them, you can create a truly accessible web experience. Learn more on Drupal’s web accessibility provisions here.

Although these two examples are fairly different in regards to accessibility, they do promote it in their own way, making the work of programmers and developers easy. 

With increasing awareness about this, this trend of making development accessible is sure going to pick up pace in 2021. 

The Reign of Programming Languages

Programming languages are the sole connection between the computers and the programmers, making both understand each other. To make that understanding as seamless as possible, there are tons of programming languages available, some more advanced than others and some more convenient than others. There are the ones that we, as developers and programmers, use everyday and then there are the ones we wish to use. We’ll talk about both. 

A raph shows the list of languages that are the most loved by programmers; Rust tops the list, making it one of the popular macro trends.Source: Stack Overflow

At the top of the most loved languages since the past half decade is Rust and with good reason. It is a language that delivers an impressive performance and is memory safe along with that its robust expressiveness also works in its favour. The fact that it is being used for big data and machine learning further adds to its lovable attributes. 

Talking about the language that the programmers covet would be Python, followed by JavaScript and Go. While Rust lands at number 4 in this category, it does show that the loved language is garnering more and more interest each year. 

A graph shows a list of languages based on their desirability for the programmers.Source: Stack Overflow

The Pivot Towards Visualisation Tools

It’s safe to say that a good picture can speak with more clarity than words ever could. Perhaps that is why visualisation tools, that equip the developers with the ability to create good images, are becoming prominent. These images are concentrated in every realm of web building from architecture to code complexity and up to system performance, visualising data and making your work easy. 

Frameworks like Tableau, IBM Cognos Analytics and Microsoft Power BI are the front-runners in this domain, becoming feature packed data studios in themselves. However, this year there has been an emergence of up-and-coming visualisation tools that have proven to be as good as the rest. Dash, Streamlit, Sisense, Kiali and Infogram are some of them.

From providing custom reports and dashboards for machine learning apps to observation tools and capturing distributed traces and metrics, these visualisation tools will remain in vogue because they take data and make it seem simple enough to explore your own health and structure as well as provide flexibility, customisation, version control on top of automated deployment.

The Browsers Going On to Full-Blown Applications?

A browser can do a number of things. If we compare an app to its browser site, you’d find a lot of similarities. Chrome and the Google app have that. At my work, I have Google Docs, Gmail, Slack and Zoho all working throughout the day on Google Chrome with Zoom calls popping in a couple of times, so, yes the browser can achieve some semblance of the functionality an app can achieve. But was it meant to be? Was a browser supposed to become an equivalent of an app? 

There isn’t an accurate answer to this question. Maybe it was the addition of HTML 2.0 and instigated the browser war between Microsoft and Netscape or maybe it was just coincidence. Nonetheless, nobody can deny that the browser has become a more complex and versatile platform with an ecosystem of its own. With polyfills and a JavaScript ecosystem make it both easy and complex for the developers to navigate through the browsers. 

Yes, browsers have transcended the expectations their users once had of them, but they still have a certain way to become a full-blown application. Take automated testing for instance, the tools browsers have for that are as good as ancient in comparison to the applications, which have the same as a first-grade objective. 

Despite this fact browsers are and will continue to evolve, this is true because browsers as code platforms are gaining traction and the tech community is making strides towards improving the overall browser experience. And to think all of this started with the addition of the ‘submit forms’ features, kind of surreal, isn’t it?

Conclusion 

And there you have it, all the popular technology trends that 2021 has to offer us. Many of them are not new of us in the tech industry, but the advancements being made in them called for their mention. Be it cloud technologies or the visualisation tools or even the ambient experience, every macro trend in 2021 is unique in itself and its outcome and that is what I think will make this year unique too.

As for Drupal, it is an old CMS, yet at 20, it’s still going strong. The most discernible reason for that is its versatility. Drupal has many out-of-the-box features that make it great, however, it hardly had any that I mentioned above. Despite that fact, it is able to provide its users the benefits of using these macro trends because it is extensible. Drupal can be used and integrated with the technologies that you want it to work with and that makes the CMS advance right along with the changing macro trends each year. 

In the end, I hope this article is as enlightening for you as it was for me. Good luck following trends and making new ones! 

Apr 23 2021
Apr 23

Have you ever wanted something, merely for the reason that it was in trend? And because it was in trend and everybody seemed to have it, you had to follow the trend? If you ask me, I would have to answer yes to this question. I have done things and bought things, just because everybody else was doing and buying them and not because I actually had a need for them. 

Now, let’s take this situation from our everyday life to the world of web development, do you think it’ll be applicable there? It would and I’ll tell you why. 

When a web project is underway, there are tens, if not hundreds of scenarios, that can turn out to be the outcome. It is up to the project managers to steer the project into the direction that is the most suitable for the goal that was decided in the planning stage. However, there are times when the project goes adrift.

How can that happen?

People, when developing a project, often aim to make it the best. Nobody aims for a substandard result. So, in the chase to become the best, they try to pack the project with as many features as possible and lose sight of the initial target. 

The client has asked for it, add that feature; 
A stakeholder vehemently disagrees with a valuable feature, leave it; 
The competition had added a specific feature, we have to add that too; 

Decisions like these are a major reason as to why projects do not achieve what they intended to. It is also why project managers have to take on the burden of choosing what to incorporate in a project and what to leave behind for now or for good. 

This practise of choosing the appropriate roadmap for a product and acting upon it throughout the development phase with the help of a well-defined strategy is often referred to as feature prioritisation. It essentially draws out the order of features that would find their way into the project and the time as to when they would. There is a lot that goes behind feature prioritisation and market research is the beginning of roadmap development. 

Upon asking a group of project managers about the biggest challenges pertinent to their workload, here is what they had to say. 

A survey is displaying the results of the challenges faced by project managers.Source: Mind The Product 

Feature prioritisation is by far one of the most challenging aspects of a project manager’s job profile. Today, we will find out why that is the case by understanding how this concept usually works, what are the flaws that accompany it and also the suitable strategies that work in the favour of feature prioritisation in project management. So, let’s begin.

The Everyday Feature Prioritising Process 

Feature prioritisation is a process that can be a tad strenuous to achieve. A major factor as to why I used that adjective is because it is a process involving people, their ideas and their feelings attached to those ideas. Building a web project requires work, but involving people and opinions and trying to reach a consensus for each development in the project would require work and give you a headache. Ask any project manager, an aspirin would be a common dietary supplement that comes with the job. It is, after all, a job where emotions perpetually run high. 

Let’s have a look at how feature prioritisation is done on an everyday basis. 

Focusing on the bigger goal 

Before the PM gathers evidence to back a feature and have all of the lengthy discussions based on the evidence trying to convince every person the team that it would work and is a must have, the PM has to make everybody see the bigger picture and focus on just that. 

The development team is going to be diverse, there are going to be people who are pros at what they do and these people are going to want to have their way because they think they know best. And maybe they, but being expert in one area does not give them a say in deciding what is right for the project, wherein several other aspects also play. 

Therefore, the understanding of the end goal by every person on the development team is crucial, if a sense of consensus has to be achieved. Of course, there aren’t always going to be unanimous decisions, and when that happens, team members shouldn’t resent the decision, they should be able to comprehend the reasoning behind it by focusing on the bigger goal. 

Prototyping for evidence 

Now, comes the part of accumulating evidence in support of a feature that should be implemented. And prototyping is the means to go here. 

For instance, you have a theory that you know is going to work in favour of the end goal. However, there is some apprehension about it. What do you do then? You prototype. You will try to develop a testable hypothesis, run it, get the results through the proper execution of the testing cycles and get your proof. 

This proof would help the team alleviate their doubts about an approach, even if it is you. The same can have negative results, meaning the test outcome could be unfavourable. In that case too, you would have the evidence to not seek a particular line of action.

Valuing the hierarchy or not?

When prioritising features, you will have a clear roadmap, you will most likely have a semblance of understanding as to what you want and what you don’t. However, all of that can go in vain, when a high level idea pops into your planned course of action. 

Denying an executive his request can be a problem for many. The perfectly curated project plan can land from a high chance of success to high chance of failure because a stakeholder decided to imbalance the project features with his request. 

Remember the prototyping we discussed in the previous point, put that to practise and save your project from being jeopardised. And that is how you must value hierarchy.

Seeing the future through the present

At the end of the day, feature prioritisation and even the entire development process is pursued for a goal that should be fulfilled in the future. And it would only be accomplished, if you put in the efforts today. 

Seeing the future means that you know how the dots will connect to make a perfectly straight line. This is done by thinking practically about the path to take and filtering out the meaningful from the meaningless.

You, as a Project Manager, have to make your team understand the reasonings of the present for the build that would get implemented in the future, If people know what they are doing today is going to serve a great or even a small purpose, like providing online education to the lower income households, they would most definitely put their best foot forwards; making feature prioritisation less of headache for the PM.

So, how would you define feature prioritisation? 

According to one of our Project Managers, Abhijeet Sinha, feature prioritisation cannot be put into a mould to have a rigid definition that would stick to every scenario. He considers the process to be purely contextual and thus, its meaning and implementation becomes quite dynamic. The only thing that persists in feature prioritisation is balance, a balance between the needs of the stakeholders and the feasibility of those needs. You can’t deliver the moon and stars on every occasion, the sky would lose its brilliance then. And I am 100% in accordance with him.

The only thing that persists in feature prioritisation is balance, a balance between the needs of the stakeholders and the feasibility of those needs.

During my discussion with Abhijeet, we talked about one particular project, wherein prioritisation was more difficult than others because priorities and feasibilities were clashing at massive proportions. 

This happened in the Thinkin Blue revamp project.

Thinkin Blue is one of OSL’s most prominent project; it involved the progressive revamp of its site. The client wanted the existing theme of the site to remain the same, the revamp would involve a change in the templates, all of this seemed feasible. The problem came in the homepage, wherein two themes had to be involved, the existing one along with the new one, which was essential for the revamp to look like a revamp. 

However, the developers were apprehensive about it, because building a homepage on two themes was going to be a massive challenge, and complicated would not even begin to describe it. 

The client wanted one thing and the developers thought it was too complicated, the project was in a deadlock. Abhijeet, being the PM, tried to reason with both the parties and in the end, the developers compromised and the home page was built on two themes. 

The same happened for the headers, the client wanted global headers, while the developers didn’t think that was the correct way to go for the home page because of the new theme. One of them had to give some leeway to Abhijeet to make the project roll forward and this time it was the client. 

Do you see what Abhijeet did? He didn’t let the stakeholders reign everywhere and neither did he allow the developers to issue all the commandments. He always listened to both sides, he thought rationally about the practicalities and wherever he thought he could push, he did. When he had to accept the client’s needs over the developers, he did and vice-versa. There was always a balance. And that is how projects succeed, Thinking Blue is a testament to that. Being stuck in a deadlock would only cost you money, time and efforts, and if compromising can avoid that, then you, as project managers, should start working on it.

So, What Should Be the Hard Hitting Prioritisation Questions To Ask?

In the previous section, we talked about feature prioritisation and how it usually goes around. The involvement of ideas, emotions and hierarchy is inevitable. Regardless you have to persist to get to the suitable features for your project without going on a crazy rampage of unwanted attributes that you will most definitely regret later. 

Here are some questions that will help you to avoid going astray.

Think about the users

Feature prioritisation starts with the users, it is them for them all of the efforts are being made. Therefore you must ask yourself; 

How many users would the proposed feature impact?
How many users would be able to use the feature without finding it complex or confusing?
How many times will the user be using that particular feature in a day?
How many users would feel as if they are empowered by the feature, would its value resonate with the users?

The higher the answers to these questions, the better the feature would turn out to be. For instance, adding various accessibility features that aid the use of a screen reader on your web project would benefit the visually impaired a great deal. With as many as 285 million users being visually, I’d say the odds of such a feature passing prioritisation are quite high.

Think about growth 

After the users comes the growth potential. Growth is a pretty broad term. It could mean bringing in new customers through an invite feature and it could also mean eliminating a feature that acted as a deterrent in luring the competitor’s market. You have to be familiar with all of your feature’s growth aspects and then ask yourself; 

Would the feature aid in your growth?

Think about efforts 

Building something that solves a problem is indeed going to require some effort from your effort. So, to ensure that your efforts get their rewards, ask yourself these three questions.

Does the feature require to be developed from scratch or does it just need some fine-tuning to perform better?
Does the feature require a lot of resources for its implementation, if so do you have a plan for delivering those resources?
Does the feature raise the level of building and using complexity for the developers and the end users and will it be worth it?

Then, think about yourself 

After all of that, you think about yourself, your goodwill and your market position. The kind of features you provide in a product speak to the kind of values you have as a brand. A brand prioritising accessibility would resonate as a brand aiming for social inclusion and that would be wordlessly spoken through the features it pumps into its products. And I do not have to tell what the value of a positive brand image is. 

So ask yourself, how well is the feature suited to your brand’s vision and its market position?

The Flawed Kind of Feature Prioritisation 

Now that we have a fair understanding of the do’s of feature prioritisation, it’s only fair to peruse the don’ts as well. These certain things and aspects of selection that may seem totally fair to you, but in reality can hamper the entire process; so, you really have to be mindful of them.

Prioritising one opinion over getting diversified notions 

One consumer feedback, one analyst opinion, one ROI report on that one feature; what do all of these have in common, the adjective one. They are proposed by an isolated person or report, and because of that, you cannot pay too much heed to them. It’s like not voicing your opinion because one person told you to shut up. 

You have to look at diversified notions. 

  • If a number of consumers are dissatisfied with a particular feature, then consider fixing it. 
  • If an analyst is able to back his claim with up-to-date data and not antiquated reports, then consider implementing his opinions. 
  • If the company ROI and consumer value is on the table along with the ROI of the feature in focus, only then consider any course of action.

Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting valuable time, efforts and resources and I’m pretty sure doing that has been in your don'ts list since such a list was conceptualised.

Prioritising gut over rationale 

There are features that we love and there are features that are necessary. Both of them could be the same and benefit the brand and the consumers alive, however, there is also a chance that they might not. 

If you or let’s say your boss thinks that a particular feature would add immense value to the project because she loves it and her gut tells her that this is what the project has been lacking, you can’t listen to that. She could be right, but following the gut is a big no-no in feature prioritisation. 

There has to be a proper rationale behind every selection, every addition and every decision made. 

You also need to know that you cannot always ensure that everybody on the team is making a rational decision, cognitive biases are a real thing and you can try to negate them, but being 100% free of them in the selection process is not a guarantee.

Prioritising an interpretable measurement system over a solid one 

In a group with a divided opinion, how do you come to consensus? The answer is through voting. And that is an important part of the selection process in feature prioritisation. These votes become the unit of measurement, based upon which a feature is selected or discarded. So, it has to be a solid system, right?

Yes, it should be full-proof without a shadow of doubt, however, it may not be and that happens when the units of measurement are open to interpretation. 

When the value of business is given a two star rating, can you be absolutely sure of what those two stars signify? 

Does that rating denote a sub-standard value? 
How does it translate to business profit? 
How do you reach five stars? 

For one person, the value may be clear, but for another it may be muddy; the reason being the difference between people’s perception and there are the cultural differences that also come to play while interpreting. 

Prioritising every vote at the same level 

Continuing on the voting discussion, it is often said that every vote is valued at the same. However, if the person voting is clueless about the feature he is voting on, should his vote have the same as that of a specialist in that area? Think about that for a minute.

Every team has a diversified skill set based on its members. There would be people with technical backgrounds like the developers and there would be people with a not-so-technical background like the marketers. Now you tell me, should a marketer be given the same voting rights as the developer, when the vote is about a technical feature? 

What About the Time and People Constraints?

Like it or not, many a time a feature is shelved not because it was ill-suited, but because the team did not have the time to build it or it did not have the right people to do it. Something like this has happened in every organisation at one point or another. 

Such an incident, when you do not have the right people to execute a feature that you know would do wonders for your project is going to be frustrating, which is understandable. You can’t do anything about it; you can hire a new person, but that could be a whole other task in itself. 

You can think of these constraints as negative or you can look at the silver lining and think of them as another filtering agent helping you prioritise further. Since I am the glass half-full kind, I’d say it is a good thing. 

If you plan out everything in an organised way and your process is full-proof, you have won half the battle. Carrying out its proper implementation would help you over the time and people constraints. If your team agrees to the plan and knows it, your chances of success increase immensely. This also means that the team is able to identify the priority tasks over the non-priority ones. 

The end goal of every project is improvement and it is research and prototyping that make it possible. So, if you have a process to implement those two, no amount of constraints will be able to hold you back. And just maybe, these two constraints help you in avoiding over-reaching?

What are the Ideal Strategies for Feature Prioritisation?

We have learnt everything we can about this concept, now it is time to learn some about the strategies that help project managers implement it. There are a few feature prioritisation frameworks that deserve mention. 

The KANO Model 

The KANO model helps you in understanding the consumer’s needs and wants and base your features on them. This is done through questionnaires and consumer feedback. Although it is a time-consuming process, it does give you a clear picture of where the consumer stands in terms of product features by classifying them. 

A graphs illustrates the four parameters of the KANO model.


According to the KANO Model, the sure thinks in four ways. 

  • For one, he wants excitement. These features add no value of the product or service, but their presence is enough to excite the consumer and lure him in.
  • Second, he wants an elevated performance. The better the performance of the feature, the better the consumer satisfaction and vice-versa. 
  • At number three, he wants the basics. There are certain that have to be there, despite them not providing any excitement to the user, you could refer to them as the threshold.
  • Finally, he becomes indifferent. This indifference is towards features, the presence or absence of which does not affect the consumer.

All four of them, with their different satisfaction and functionality levels help the project managers know the strengths and weaknesses of the project.

The MoSCoW Model 

Must-haves; 
Should-haves; 
Could-haves; 
Won’t-haves;  

These four sum up the meaning and the reasoning behind the MoSCoW model. All of them categorise features based upon their importance to the project. Going from the top; 

  • Features that have to be in a project to make it complete are the must-haves and should be prioritised over anything else. 
  • Features that should be included in the project, but can be delayed for the time being are should-haves, much like green vegetables; you should eat them, but you can survive without them for some time. 
  • Features that could be included in the project or could not be included in the project without having any impact on the overall functionality are the could haves. It’s good to have them for higher consumer satisfaction, but their absence won’t be blatant to the consumer.
  • Features that are won’t have are the ones that are not at all crucial for the project at the moment and would only cause additional stress on the resources at hand. 

The thing about the MoSCoW model is that it lets you know what kind of features you can bring to the table in the feature. This is because priorities never remain the same, a feature that was shelved for requiring too much work and having too little impact could become a Must-have in the future.

According to OSL's project managers, the success of any given project is primarily determined by the intelligent prioritisation of various tasks. Choosing the right high-priority feature may seem to be daunting, but for successful and timely delivery of the project, this is a must. Neha Grover, one of our Project Managers, feels that during instances in projects when you have the list of work packages, which need to be prioritised and moulded into a work breakdown structure(WBS), the PM has to play a key role in getting the stakeholder's and dev team's expectations and priorities to be on the same page.

"I follow the MoSCoW prioritisation technique in my projects, as this is quite simple and less time-consuming and it focuses on both customers and stakeholders."

The Cost of Delay Model 

It is often said that you can't put a price on time, it is indeed priceless; never to come back again once it is gone. Saying that, if you happen to have the right matrix to work with you can actually value the cost of time or more like the cost of delaying. And that is what this feature prioritisation framework is all about. 

The COD model calculates your losses for delaying the development and implementation of a particular feature. Based upon that cost, you will get an idea as to the importance of that feature and prioritise its build accordingly. 

For instance, 

Say there is a feature that would take 30 days to build and every day it’ll cost the organisation $1000. Then there is a feature that would take the same amount of time to develop, however, it is costing the organisation more than double in comparison every.

In such a scenario, which feature would you prioritise? The answer is simple, the one that is making you lose more money. Building that first would stabilise your losses more than the other as the cost of delaying that was more than the other. 

Prioritise what saves you more money by reducing the cost of delay.

The Value Model 

Businesses develop features because they think the said features would prove to be valuable for them. To get that value, they endeavour to build something good. What if that value isn’t as impressive as the business, the project managers and the developers had thought to be. This is why the value model becomes an important strategy to implement during feature prioritisation. 

The purpose of the value model is to reap the highest value of a feature for the business through its two facets.

Value based on cost 

Cost doesn’t necessarily mean money, it could be interpreted as efforts as well or even complexity. The model states to simply prioritise the tasks with high value and low cost first, then move onto the features with high business value and high cost. If you wish, you can take on the low value-low cost features, but most definitely avoid low value and high cost features. 

A graph shows the functionality of value vs cost model of feature prioritisation.


Value based on risk

From cost, we come to risk, which is another metric to be mindful of while prioritising features. It more or less works in a similar fashion to the value and cost model, it's just instead of the cost, you’d be focusing on the risk. 

A graph is explaining the way value and risk model works.


The higher value and low risk features would be prioritised over everything else, while the low value and high risk features would be avoided altogether. This helps in enduring that you are not going to end up building something that is unnecessary or even something that is too simple by playing it safe.

The Financial Model 

An income is what everyone is after and feature prioritisation operates in the same notion as well. The purpose of increasing revenue and reducing costs is omnipresent in all the business decisions and choosing features for a particular project falls under that umbrella. 

So, thinking about the financial side of the features is what the essence of this model is. 

Whether you will be able to generate new income; 
Whether you will be able to enhance your operational efficiency and reduce costs; 
Whether you will be able to lessen the amount of consumer turnover;
Whether you will be able to gain an additional income from the consumers you already have; 

All these are important scenarios to consider in the financial model for feature prioritisation. 

Then there is the actual money metrics to pay heed to in the selection process, which includes three important dimensions. 

  • One is the focus on the Present Value of money. What you have invested today and the return you will get from it five years down the line would not be in the same value of currency as it keeps changing. So, making a projection based on the Net Present Value formula is a wise choice. 
  • Second is to calculate the Internal Rate of Return, which is essentially a percentage value of returns for a project and how quickly they might increase.
  • Third is to focus on the running total of the discounted cash flows to get an overview of the time it would take to get the investment back. This is also referred to as ‘the Discounted Payback Period.’

The Opportunity Scoring Model

For every feature in every product, there are two attributes that usually stand out apart from the financial aspects of that feature. And these are; 

How important the feature or its outcome is to the consumer?
And how satisfied is the consumer with the provided feature?

Take the answers to these questions and start pointing them out in a graph and you will end up with something looking like this. 

A graph is illustrating the way opportunity scoring is done.


So, the scoring makes it easy to prioritise by using visuals and categories simultaneously. The features that are important to the consumer, but aren’t very satisfactory would be priotises more than the features that are satisfactory for the consumer, but not very important. 

The RICE Model  

The RICE Model gives you an in-depth understanding of each feature you wish to implement based upon four parameters that some of the other strategies are unable to. 

Reach 

Reach refers to the number of people the feature would reach and affect. These numbers are calculated on real matrices like ‘customers per quarter’ and ‘transactions per month,’ thereby removing all forms of personal bias from the equation. The higher the resultant number, the further the feature’s reach.

Impact 

The I is for impact, meaning the kind of impact the feature would have on individual users as well as the goals and     objectives of the business as a whole. This is ranked from minimal to medium to high to massive impact based on points from 0.25 to 3.

Confidence 

Now that you have the numbers for the reach and impact of the features, comes the moment to test your confidence in them, that is what the C denotes. Using a scale with 100, 80 and 50 points referring to a high, medium and low confidence level, you will start scoring. Remember to always provide evidence in the form of data for every score you give.

Effort

In the end, the E is for Effort in terms of time and people. Questions like how much time would it take to build the feature. How many people would be required to make it, how much time would one person have to shell out in a day for the build are to be asked and answered in this parameter. 

The RICE formula, a framework for feature prioritisation, is depicted.


Once you have the results for all the parameters, you will use this formula and will be left with a number that would denote the total impact of time worked. This number is what would help you prioritise. 

The Voting Model 

This is not a well-established model, but it has a lot of merit in its implementation. Based on two different aspects of feature selection, here is how it is used. 

Annotation 

When you are voting for a feature’s implementation, you would be stating whether that feature should be high on priority or even low, you can’t just say those two simple words; there won’t be any clarity in that. If you are saying that a feature is high impact, then you must state why? It could be any reason, an admin panel with a particular feature could have a massive impact because it would help the stakeholders in completing their primary tasks with ease. A comment can truly make a difference in the perception of a feature and thus, aid the selection process.

There is table showing how a feature is prioritised based on its impact on the stakeholders.


Diversification

The second part of the model is to diversify the voting team as much as possible. Include experts in the domain as well as non-experts. This would give you a more concise picture as to the popularity of the feature amongst a wider range of people. However, do remember that you separate the experts' votes from the non-experts clearly, because even though diversified voting helps get a better perception on the proposed features, the expert opinions would weigh more. You can even segregate the votes based on departments, like votes from the finance department’s votes could be one category and marketing people could have a different category. 

Now that you have explored various approaches of prioritising features in a project, read about the right way to start a Drupal project, standard development workflow for a Drupal project, best project management techniques for complex Drupal projects, difference between product mindset vs project mindset and human factor in project management for effective project management.

The Bottom Line 

There are numerous other techniques and strategies that can be implemented for feature prioritisation. You can use all of them or just a couple, that is totally up to you. However, you have to remember that a feature is not just for the consumer and not solely for the business. 

Both the consumer and the business have different reasons for using and building a particular feature. The consumer wants the feature to fulfil a need, while the business wants the feature to bring an increased revenue. So, you have to endeavour to strike a balance between the two. This can be done through choosing strategies that are both business-centric and consumer centric, like the Cost of Delay model or RICE. 

In the end, I just want to say that feature prioritisation is a never ending process much like development. As long as you will keep developing, you would have to choose certain features over others to prioritise. So, mastering the prioritisation technique would serve your interests well. 

Apr 21 2021
Apr 21

This is the second of the two-part series on ‘Formulating a business case for a new CMS’. The first part debates on open source CMS and proprietary CMS. The second part will discuss various other factors that are to be considered before opting for a new CMS for your business.

A Content Management System is one of those things that we didn't realise we needed until they became commonplace, and now it is near impossible to survive without using, or hearing of one every now and then. In an age where convenience and agility are prioritised, the concept of a CMS holds great merit. It highly simplifies the work of creating a website and expands the use case of technology, making it accessible to a wide range of people - whether technically proficient or not.

Factors to consider while choosing a new CMS

While one CMS may be good for a particular enterprise, it might add no value or even prove to be detrimental to the other. Hence, skimming through important factors is an essential aspect of building a business case for a new CMS. While in part 1 we have discussed multidimensional comparisons between open source and proprietary software, this part is focused mainly on discussing the factors that are responsible and must be addressed before bringing a new CMS to the table. 

Why go for a new cms? 

Before trying to answer questions like why to choose an open source CMS or when to go for a proprietary one, first the need for a new CMS should be justified. Is there aur technology problem that you're facing? Can that problem be solved by undergoing something less monumental than migrating all your content to a new CMS? If yes, should you update, rather than replacing your existing base? 

Once the need for a CMS is mapped out and you are sure that you'll be going through that route, the next step would be to shortlist, analyse and re analyse every aspect of the new technology. You should be thinking as holistically as possible during this phase to eliminate potential issues in the future.

  • The CMS must resonate with your brand image, and facilitate the execution of your agendas. . 
  • You also need to analyse the CMS in terms of the amount of content you’ll be operating on it and whether it will be able to handle that, and if it provides the architecture for you to manage your content methodically.

Listing down both the business related pros and the probable risks of every option would be a good idea before proceeding. 

Primary stakeholdership 

A question pretty important but often ignored while choosing a new CMS is who has the stakes to decide and consider on the different CMS features that are being debated. As your organisation expands digitally and physically, the number of stakeholders starts increasing as well. The various teams dealing with IT, Marketing and Content might see a different CMS each that fits well with their demands. It is, again, a matter of debate to decide which area your company relies more on and is looking forward to invest in. 

SaaS vs Hosted vs On Premise

A SaaS (Software as a Service) CMS is a cloud computing environment with no obligations to install, update or maintain it. In stark contrast to this is an on-premise CMS where a licence is required from the vendor to install the software on your own server, and the provider is also responsible for maintaining the software. In a cloud-hosted CMS solution, a licence is required to install the software, but after that, it works just like an on-premise CMS.

These technicalities also need to be addressed while the discussion for onboarding a new software, so that the team finally ends up choosing the right CMS.

Business impacts

Long-term impacts need to be examined beforehand if possible. CMS platforms categorise into Development Platforms and Solution Platforms - where the development platforms act like a blank canvas one can build anything on, and the solution platform comes largely pre-built with customisable features. If your business banks on a good User Experience and looks forward to personalizing user experiences, a development platform might be a better choice. Similarly, if the focus area is not UX or creativity but content, a solution platform would be a better bet.

Technology Integration

Exhaustive documentation is required to analyse what tools and technologies you are going to use for marketing forms, project management, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), email marketing and even customer support. Does the CMS provide enough flexibility and scalability features to operate each one of these tools efficiently? You don't really need an all-rounder CMS, you just need to figure out what technologies you are going to use and find an associated software product that syncs well with those.

Skillsets

Choosing a good team is way more tedious a task than choosing a good CMS. So now is the time to talk to the team members and discuss their strengths and weaknesses regarding the tools they are comfortable using, or are expecting to be a part of their workspace. Consider your existing IT infrastructure and expertise and analyse whether your team has sufficient time to allocate to installing, maintaining and securing a CMS. Do you have sufficient in-house resources to customise the CMS if needed? It is imperative to answer all such questions before going ahead.  To know more, read what skillsets facilitate traditional and decoupled Drupal development.

Feature bloat vs Feature-rich

Always bear in mind that a lot of features in a CMS require nerve and sinew to make them functional. You need to know the basics of every feature that you are planning to utilise. A software may have immense capabilities regarding personalization and customization, but these won't articulate by themselves. The question here is - do you possess the necessary resources to breathe life into all of this? More importantly, all that sparkles isn't gold. Do you, in fact, need all of this pomp and show, or is most of it going to lie stagnant or cause unnecessary delays due to a heavy system? Do realise that you want a feature-rich CMS, ie, one that has features that you actually need. 

The potential CMS of choice might be great for complex workflows, but the question is do you have or need a complex workflow with multiple approvals on the line to make decisions? It is imperative that you remain realistic about your company’s maturity and roadmap and see if it aligns well with these technologies, hence not overdoing features to the point where they become unnecessary ornaments on the site. Always keep the requirements matrix of your platform in the backdrop while deciding on which CMS to go for.

Product demos

Theory can never be as reliable as practical examples.  An investment as elaborate as choosing a new CMS cannot be planned without taking into consideration various product demos and user reviews. Once the feature requirements have been worked through, develop usage scenarios and conduct initial product research for the next phase of the selection process - which is to document your needs and test the product against these requirements. Try to look for reviews that talk about problem solving, certain encountered issues, software upgrades and other potential problem causing areas.

In this phase, also try to examine whether the product naturally fits the vision of your company, what compromises might need to be made if you choose the product, and more importantly, if the vendor understands your business' work patterns and complements your ideas. Also run a check with your present team on how compatible they are with the platform.

Understanding the product roadmap 

It is imperative that you realize the roadmap of the potential vendors as well. Does it align with the track that you have set for your business? Taking the effort to track the future plans you are thinking of opting for would not be 'going overboard'. Being a little foresighted is an essential quality in a business owner. With new technologies taking over every now and then, the general trajectory might undergo change several times over the years - hence, a good way to track the adaptability of a CMS would be to trace down history and examine how much it has changed in the past to to fit into the ongoing trends, like decoupled architectures, cloud, SaaS etc. 

Cost efficacy

The budget is one of the first things an organisation considers. All kinds of costs - initiation, operation and implementation - need to be considered while chalking out the investment, as we don’t want the plan to turn turbulent at a later date. Software upgrades, maintenance, premiums - everything should be studied carefully in order to comply with your monetary limits. Both proprietary and open source models incur certain kinds of costs but in very different dimensions. Hence, it is upto you to prioritise where you want your money to be spent.

Drupal: An ideal CMS for building a modern web property

Since the choice of a software turns out to be the bedrock of all business activity online, most users try going for reliable options that have stabilized their name in the market by proving to be a resilient business partner over the years. Drupal is one such CMS that has been here for over two decades, and has been powering websites across the globe ever since. Let’s see how Drupal stands against the various dimensions of choosing a new platform.

  • Open source

Drupal is an open source platform with contributors bringing in global, cosmopolitan perspectives to their work each day. Apart from the many benefits of being open source, there's also a social satisfaction that comes with being a member of the community. Hence, Drupal development is free of cost to begin with. Depending on the level of customisation and the number of features you want to use, partnering with a digital agency can of course incur costs.  Learn more about merits of open source by going through the impact of open source during covid-19 pandemic, influence of large companies on open source, the power of being recession-free and the perks of contributing to it.

  • Content authoring

Drupal offers all the high utility tools required for content creation, publishing and the maintenance of a seamless workflow. Authentications and permissions are placed at appropriate levels to help manage editorial management. This means that right content architecture can be created using the admin interface, or even programmed. One can work with granular tagging and mobile editing to create content that is suitable for both websites and mobile applications. Drupal allows content authors to use a WYSIWYG editor to create and edit content in-place, ie, one could browse to a page, click on the content and edit it right there, on the spot. Apart from this, Drupal provides for tracking content revisions, an essential feature is you have multiple editors on board.

Drupal with its powerful display mode tools categorizes and displays only the most appropriate content including an array of media. While the Layout Builder allows content authors to create customisable visual layouts to display content, the Paragraphs module paves the way for an organised, cleaner site by providing pre-defined Paragraph Types for organising text blocks or images in a slideshow. For more on content authoring using Layout Builder and Paragraphs, read here.

  • Ease of use

Drupal's ease of use again depends on the manner in which you are using Drupal. If you are using the headless version to create custom layouts and mobile applications, very easy usability cannot be expected with the additional technicalities involved. However, developers point out that the availability of modules for every functionality on Drupal makes it extremely convenient even for newbies, making the learning curve quite short. Moreover, starting as a Drupal developer requires the least amount of Drupal centric learning and one can even start with the basic programming languages. Read here to know more about how easy learning and working with Drupal can be.

  • Industries suitable 

Since everything in Drupal is extremely customisable, it can be moulded into under requirements of literally any industry, both government and private. Currently Drupal is in use across several industries dealing in digital mediaFinTech, sports,  food, education, and many more as can be seen below.

white graph with blue bars showing the various sectors in which the cms drupal is usedSource : Drupal.org

In terms of security, Drupal emerges as a solid and secure CMS. Being designed keeping robust security in mind, it comes as no surprise that Drupal powers the websites for many leading corporations, brands and governments across the world. While one of the largest open source developer communities in the world ensures a rapid response to any issues, a bunch of problems are prevented solely by Drupal's strong coding standards and a stringent community code review process. No wonder, a report by Sucuri proves that Drupal is one of the most secure CMS among the major open source CMSes in the market.

grey and green bar graph showing cms infections in 4 different cms side by sideSource : Sucuri
  • Scalability and performance

In a case where it is used and optimised appropriately, Drupal can be scaled up to reach millions of people. For instance, the CDN (Content Delivery Network) module helps one integrate their Drupal website to a CDN, which is basically a globally distributed network of proxy servers that increases the reach of your content manifold. If the hardware of your server is giving up, Drupal allows you to scale it either vertically or horizontally - i.e., by either adding more resources at the same server or adding multiple servers to divide the load. Read about Drupal’s immense scalability and high performance offerings to know more.

  • Decoupled Drupal 

Decoupled Drupal comes with a bunch of flexibility. Developers are free to choose any front end tools that they deem fit while backing on Drupal to provide a robust backend. Decoupled Drupal architecture provides the best possible framework for serving content in the form of chat platforms, conversational UIs (User Interface) etc. through a variety of channels like mobile apps, Internet of Things apps, smartwatches and CRM systems. To know more, read about Decoupled Drupal architecture, difference between monolithic and decoupled architectures, when to move from monolithic to decoupled architectures, how to decouple Drupal, and success stories on decoupled Drupal.

Drupal allows for maintaining separate independent sites that branch out from a single code base while having their own separate databases, configuration, files and URLs.

  • Multilingual 

Drupal enables building multilingual websites with its built-in language handling abilities that make it easy to create localised digital experiences. Certain core modules in Drupal facilitate the translation of every element of a website. Explore more about Drupal’s magnificent multilingual capabilities here.

Drupal can greatly aid you in the Search Engine Optimisation of your website, necessary for clients to find you. You can rely on Real time SEO For Drupal to constantly remind you of anything you might have missed in the optimisation process, and work with the Googalytics module to integrate Google Analytics in Drupal, hence keeping in touch with all the current trends. To know more about Drupal’s SEO features and to update yourself on the present and upcoming SEO trends, check this guide on Drupal SEO.

  • Mobile apps

Drupal focuses on mobile first development. It has also come up with a mobile initiative for this, along with multiple device friendliness to bring about community participation in the same. Not only that, the potential for building mobile applications with Drupal is plenty. For example, you can extract the power of Flutter and Drupal together to build an intuitive mobile app. 

  • E-commerce

Using Drupal Commerce, businesses can utilise an open-source eCommerce framework to build flexible eCommerce websites and applications based on Drupal. Drupal commerce aims to make teams more productive by simplifying complex checkout outflows and keeping every feature accessible at an arm’s length for a merchant of any size. One doesn't need to worry about conforming to industry security standards while implementing Drupal, and can easily rely on  Drupal's own best practices.

It also includes provisions for integrating payment and fulfillment tools to strategize the best marketing strategies tailored for your business. The Commerce Kickstart distribution can be used to start the project, as it comes loaded with features that make it easy to use and administer.

For creating a more engaging and interactive website while still staying in touch with Drupal Commerce, headless Drupal could be utilised. To complete this transaction, APIs (Application Programming Interface) act as the bridge to connect the frontend and the backend - with Commerce API extending JSON:API and Commerce Cart API which lays out an interactive interface of the buyer’s cart through REST API.  Read here to know more about content-driven commerce with Drupal.

  • Web accessibility

Drupal has various modules in place to ensure web accessibility guidelines, realising how important it is to make the website accessible to users across the globe. Modules like CKEditor provide a number of features like CKEditor Accessibility Auditor and CKEditor Accessibility Checker to analyse if the overall experience is convenient for disabled people. Keeping accessibility uniform throughout the site, Drupal’s Automatic Alternative Text Module provides alternative texts in all the images where the content author may have missed it. To further your knowledge on how Drupal ensures web accessibility, read here.

  • Documentation

Every little step taken by Drupal or the community  is exhaustively documented for greater knowledge sharing and transparency among the stakeholders and contributors. Dries Buytaert’s State of Drupal presentation in July 2020 and December 2020 includes all the changes and upgrades made in Drupal in the past year. For more proper documentation on everything Drupal, you can check out Drupal’s official documentation page. Whether you may want to try out a Drupal demo site or are ready to build a perfect Drupal-powered site for your business, the curated list of user guide, evaluator guide, local development guide and many more will help you easily start your Drupal website.

  • Agency partner availability

Drupal Marketplace lists all the agencies that are avid contributors to Drupal's modules, distributions and case studies revolving around Drupal projects. Hence, if a business is thinking of starting a Drupal project but doesn't have the required expertise to go about it, they can contact one of these top ranking agencies for Drupal development services. OpenSense Labs ranks in the top 5 and would love to partner to help fulfill your digital transformation dreams. And, if you wish to leverage more resources for your projects, our staff augmentation services would take care of the rest.

  • Support and maintenance

One of the biggest plus points of being an open source platform is that support is highly accessible and maintenance is pretty swift. Since it is such a widely cultivated and utilised platform, there cannot be bug fixes related to important issues lying around stagnant for a large amount of time. The Drupal community is always walking towards resolving issues that crop up from time to time. 

If you have a Drupal website that you require assistance with, we at OSL could help you out with our  Drupal Support and Maintenance  program.

Conclusion

This concludes our exhaustive list of factors responsible for choosing a new CMS, complete with a business case comparison between open source and proprietary models. Hopefully this article helps you in making the correct decision regarding your business' choice of the appropriate digital platform.

Apr 20 2021
Apr 20

If there is one thing that is in abundance today, that’d be competition. It starts as soon as a child is born and ends when he takes his last breath. It’s not just people who have to face the gruelling reality of perpetual competitiveness, it’s also the non-living objects who compete. 

Tell me, can you possibly buy the new Adidas Aerobounce 2 without checking what the competitors have to offer? And can you really buy that shoe without comparing the prices on the online and offline stores? I am sure not. 

This is why brands and businesses try to be the best in catching the eye of the consumer and presently the best way to do that and beat the competition is through Digital Experience Platforms.

Today’s consumer doesn’t connect to a business through medium, there are a number of touchpoints in play and integrating all of those together to engage your consumer base is what a DXP does. This helps businesses to not only build and deploy digital experiences, but also improve them continuously across your websites, portals and mobile applications. All of it accumulating to a wholesome user experience.

The various features of a DXP are represented in the image in the form of a diagram.Source: Bloomreach

The diagram above is the sum total of a DXP’s powers, which are pretty versatile, as it combines all of the various aspects of online businesses, be it social media or personalisation and targeting, and lets you deliver a seamless digital experience. 

Digital Experience Platforms provide an edge to a business that CMSs and WEMs cannot and that is why they are becoming popular by the day. Their advantages back this claim. 

  • The ability to manage the bazillion consumer touchpoints is the paramount merit, be it FAQs or chatbots, there is an answer to everything.
  • Then is the ability to connect your business’ various aspects at one place, from sales and commerce transactions to instilling loyalty amongst the consumers through in-house programs. 
  • The ability to be flexible is inherent in DXPs as well. You can build it on your rhyme and rhythm, there won’t be any objections. 

Let me also give you a few statistics to understand the rage DXPs are becoming in the present and what their future looks like.

Future projections of the DXP market is depicted.Source: Markets and MarketsThe market of DXPs is shown based on geographical regions in a bar graph.Source: Markets and Markets

Based on these figures, I have to ask, when are you switching to a DXP? If the answer is right about now, you have landed yourself in the right place because I am going to be talking about all the things you would have to consider before choosing the right and most suitable DXP. So, let’s begin our DXP checklist. 

What tools and integrations are you using and plan to use?

The foremost question to ask relates to technologies you are using and plan to use in the future. You can document these technologies based on your consumer’s journey. This would allow you to create the most optimal digital experience for your users because you would have worked on the gaps and weaknesses of the journey. 

From that first step, you have to move onwards and upwards and focus on all the tools and integrations you would need to work with your chosen DXP. Let’s take a look at them together. 

Data Analytics 

Every organisation has a data warehouse, however, it’s proportion does vary. This data might as well be responsible for shaping your strategy. Therefore, you have to consider your analytical requirements before taking on a DXP. 

Remember that you can always come to Google Analytics for any analytics, even after choosing a closed DXP. To know more on how data driven strategies can help understand consumer behaviour, read here.

Digital Marketing Tools 

The DXP you choose should be able to integrate with various marketing tools in the market. Look for integration support with a keen eye, it could be out-of-the-box or an extension, but it has to be there with a side of third-party marketing automation at play.

Conducting a thorough review of the MarTech stack is also recommended here, find out what is being used and where it is being used before going any further.

Digital Asset Managers 

If you have a digital asset manager, you should consider one thing and that is its integration with other downstream systems. This would ease the flow of images and assets through your organisation. Everything about digital asset management (DAM) here.

Backend Integrations 

Then is the question of backend integrations, you could have a CRM or an EPR working at your backend. If that is the case, you ought to start finding them out and assess their compatibility with your DXP provider.

What are your notions about decoupling?

Nobody likes being constrained, the joy you find when you are free to do as you want is unlike anything else. That is pretty the scenario with decoupling or going headless. You could have a strong monolithic architecture now, but in the future that could change, because what works today may not work tomorrow. Therefore, you should think about choosing an Open DXP, if you are indecisive about decoupling today.

Your projects could need microcontent; 
Your content could need to be published on multiple channels; 
Your developers could ask to go headless because there is so much to explore; 

All of these scenarios are real possibilities and you must consider them before making firm decisions on decoupling and DXPs. There are plenty of these platforms that support going headless and having that room to explore can’t be bad.

What are your plans for commerce?

Commerce is another important aspect you need to consider before choosing a DXP. Having all the right features to look for is crucial here. You have to ensure that the DXP’s commerce strategy actually aligns with your commerce needs and at the same time gives you room to be better. 

  • Assess yourself first, know whether your needs are just browse and buy or are they more than that.
  • Assess whether the DXP should be able to work with different commerce technologies to get you what you want.
  • Assess your Stock Keeping units and let their count decide the kind of robustness you would need in your DXP. 
  • Assess the kind of data model you need based upon the working of your team and its present and future needs. 
  • Assess the importance of content in commerce, more like search it up and integrate it without any hesitation. This would create a much more effective experience for the user.
  • And assess whether going headless is worth losing the commerce extensions that come along with the platform.

Once you have an answer to these, you’ll become a step closer to the perfect DXP for you.

What are your editorial needs?

After technology, comes the part your content writers and editors play in the DXP decision. You have to understand that the more writers and editors you have, the more complex the editing experience would become and you would need a DXP that can handle it.

In this regard you have to consider three things before making a decision. 

Cache Manipulation 

Cache manipulation features allow you to sync your developers’ caching strategies with the user's needs. This helps in making you content appear quickly to the users and a perpetual communication in your cache layers.

Review Needs 

Sometimes your content needs to be reviewed by people within the organisation before it goes live. These could be your legal department or even project managers. If that is the case, you need to look for a DXP that is equipped to handle this kind of editorial needs.

Multilingual Requirements 

Finally, many sites today are operating globally, this means they have to change to the local language. For that your DXP needs to have impeccable translation needs, with understanding of the various dialects of the said language. You can’t be using American English on a Scottish website, it won't be wrong or unethical, just inappropriate and your audience might not be able to relate.

What is the value of security for you?

Security is another major criteria that has to be given its due importance. Making a fully-functional site with all the right features, but lack of security would make all your efforts go in vain. That’s why you have to look for the right security features in a DXP to avoid the unfortunate fate.

  • The foremost feature to want should be an integration to Varnish and a CDN along with free-flowing interactions between the DXP and cache layers. 
  • Then you should think about securing your network nodes that are outside your network core. This is done through edge protection services provided by top DXPs, so make that a mandate.
  • Distributed Networks Attacks can be quite harmful, so ensure that the DXP you choose can prevent and counter them.

Also remember that you need to let the experts do the decision making in this regard because you cannot afford to go wrong here. 

What about government regulations and stipulations?

There are a number of rules and regulations that your digital experiences have to adhere to with a super glue consistency. A DXP that makes that easy for you is always going to be a winner; you must know what happens when you go against the law.

Here are the paramount regulations that you have to stick to.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA;
  • General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR; 
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPPA; 
  • Family Education Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA; 
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG;

These are a must when building digital experiences, so grill your prospective vendors about them and if possible, ask for case studies.

Apart from this, Personally Identifiable Information should be a factor in your choice. The way it is collected and stored should be compliant with the GDPR regulations.

What are the financial implications?

When you would be looking for a DXP, you will certainly want one that will favour all the technologies that you want to incorporate into your organisation’s digital platforms. Am I right? So, you will be aiming for the best out there. However, what if the best is not within your price range. Do you settle then? No, of course not. You choose what is the most suitable for you and whatever ticks the most boxes. 

So, before or even during the selection process of a DXP, you need to allocate the budget you are comfortable with. It could be less than a hundred grand or close to a million dollars, that is on you. 

Remember that just because a DXP is expensive, doesn’t mean it is the best. Whatever your budget may be, you could still get what is best for you.

Finally, what do you want the future to hold for you?

Life is often regarded as transitory and it really is; what is important today may not be important in future and what may seem trivial today may become the next big thing. 

The same is true for DXPs and your digital experiences; they will evolve with time. Therefore, when you choose an agency remember to not let it make you inflexible. You would need to keep an open mind about the future and your digital experiences should have the same openness in their build. 

  • Look for future scope in the DXP; 
  • Look for extension of current technologies like marketing automation; 
  • Look for an open DXP architecture with flexible APIs.

You certainly cannot be sure of the future, but what you can be sure of is the fact that the future is going to change and you would have to change with it. 

Bottom Line 

As Steve Jobs said,

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology- not the other way around.”

There is real meaning behind that statement, all of your digital experiences start with and end with the consumer, so why not prioritise them over everything else. 

So, how to choose a DXP? By assessing your past, present and future in accordance to your consumer experiences. You must want to create a fulfilling digital experience for your users, for that you have to have a fulfilling digital experience platform that guarantees to check every and all of your necessities. The questions I talked about above would help you kick start your DXP journey. OpenSense Labs continues to build amazing digital experiences with Drupal that endeavor to provide all of what we discussed, so you could, maybe, start looking here to build a Drupal-powered DXP. 

Apr 13 2021
Apr 13

Drupal has been in the content management game for over two decades. That is a long period of time and in that time span the CMS has accomplished a lot. It’s community of over a million Drupalists is just one part of it. With 20 years gone, Drupal is still running strong and its latest update is proof of that. 

Yes, in the June of 2020, amidst the pandemic, Drupal 9 was launched and it was my only sunshine at that time and I am sure many of my Drupal friends would agree with me. Drupal 9 can be deemed as one of the best offerings of Drupal, not there were many that were anything but great.

Job done easy: Drupal 9 upgrade

The latest version meant we had to take it on, why be comfortable with the past when the present can offer more comfort, right? However, the mammoth task that was the Drupal 8 upgrade, you must remember that, made many of us apprehensive and rightfully so. And that is where we were surprised, pleasantly might I add, by Drupal. 

“Easiest upgrade in a decade.”

This is how the Drupal 9 upgrade is being described and it is because you won’t have to replatform your site, you’d only be updating. It's like taking a connecting flight from London to Paris rather than leaving the airport and taking a train from the station. Connecting flights are easy.

The timeline of Drupal releases in shown. Timeline of Drupal 9 future releases | Source: Drupal.org

Considering the fact that Drupal 9 is not a migration, the upgrade is a breeze. With the addition of new features like Olivero and Claro, being built and stabilised respectively, the new versions of Drupal 9 will become all the more appealing and a release can be expected half yearly much like Drupal 8. So, can we afford to sit back and not take the step towards upgrading our Drupal sites. The fact the Drupal 7 and Drupal 8’s end-of-life has been decided has given us all the more reason to make the upgrade. Read our complete guide on Drupal 9, Drupal 9 FAQs, must-have modules to start your Drupal 9 website, configuration management strategies in Drupal 9 and web development strategies for Drupal 9 website to know more about Drupal 9 and its usage.

To help you in finding the answer to the popular question of “How to upgrade Drupal 9?”, here I am with an all inclusive checklist for this massive step you are about to take. So, let’s begin.

Is the upgrade different for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions for Drupal 9 upgrade. There are still a lot of Drupal sites that are still operating on the 7th version, so it is understandable to want to know whether ‘the easiest upgrade of the decade' is applicable to them or is it different. 

Drupal 9 upgrade is different for Drupal 7 and 8 sites. This is mainly because Drupal 8 was a whole other ballgame than Drupal 7, while Drupal 9 is just a new and improved version of Drupal 8 with no deprecated APIs. Therefore, the upgrading process was bound to be different.

Let’s see how. 

Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 

Support for Drupal 8 will end on 2nd November, 2021, it will receive patch releases, but there won’t be any major updates in its feature simply because we have Drupal 9. Therefore, upgrading to the newer version is the better option. 

To upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9, 

  • You would have to see that all your projects are Drupal 9 compatible; 
  • You would have to see that your codebase is free of deprecated APIs; 
  • And then all you would have to do is run update.php. 

It sounds simple enough, right? That is because it is. Of course, you would have to perform some more steps than these three and there would be a number of tools that you would have to use for them. However, it is these three steps that are essentially the crux of upgrading from Drupal 8 onto 9.

Drupal 7 to Drupal 9

Drupal 7’s support is said to end on 28th November, 2022. Although your D7 site has quite some time ahead of it, you still have to start thinking about the upgrade as the process is not as easy as the D8 to D9 upgrade. 

You can take two routes here; 

  • You can first update to Drupal 8, avail functionality from all the modules that are yet to come in Drupal 9 and then take the easy route of upgrading to Drupal 9; 
  • Or you can directly upgrade to Drupal 9 and skip the 8th version. This would be ideal because your upgrade would have a much longer lifespan.

For the upgrade from Drupal 7, you would need three modules; 

These three do everything from data and content migrations and checking the availability of modules to scanning them and updating them for the upgrade. 

So yes, the Drupal 9 upgrade from Drupal 7 and 8 is different, simply because they are very different versions of the CMS. 

Now that we have this notion clarified, let’s move on to all the nitty-gritty details of the upgrade.  

What tools would you need for the Drupal 9 upgrade?

Can you cook without the right ingredients? Can you make the perfect lasagna without the melt-in-the-mouth pasta? I know you know the answer to these two questions and that’s a big fat no. 

Therefore, the incredible journey towards the Drupal 9 experience has to start by talking about the tool you would need for it, the ingredients that’ll make the upgrade all the more appetising. I’ll stop with the cooking analogy now and come to the point. There are two mandatory tools that you will be needing.

Upgrade Status 

Upgrade Status is a module that prepares your site for the upcoming upgrade you are planning to execute. It is a pretty versatile module that does all the grunt work required before making the leap to D9. 

  • Your site has to be the latest version of Drupal, that is Drupal 8.8 or 8.9, so the first thing this module does is inspects whether you are on that version, if not, it’ll tell you to update.
  • Your system needs to meet Drupal 9’s set requirements for the upgrade to go on smoothly, so the next thing it does is check if you meet them.
  • Your contributed projects also need to be updated and be compatible with Drupal 9. If they are Drupal 8 compatible, there is a high chance they’ll be for Drupal 9. So, Upgrade Status works with Update Status to ensure every project is in sync.
  • Your site needs to be compatible with Drupal 9 in other ways as well, so that is also checked and verified through phpstan.
  • Your system’s integration drush is also taken care of here.
  • Your system might have deprecated APIs, Upgrade Status finds, although there are any fixes provided; for that you'll need another tool.

Upgrade Status’ enchantment doesn’t end here, there is more to this module yet. 

  • I’ve told you that it prepares your Drupal 8 site, but it also gives you the leeway for downloading it with and without the Composer. 
  • It is also available in Drupal 7 and this version would help you in preparation for the Drupal 9 as well as Drupal 8 upgrade, if that is what you want. 
  • Now, the most alluring part, once you’ll upgrade to Drupal 9, it’ll start preparing you for the Drupal 10 upgrade! Yes, you read it right, Drupal 10 launch is in the works and you can be ready for that when it happens with this module.

Deprecation Check

Remember I mentioned deprecated APIs above, well, there are more than APIs that can be deprecated and that needs your attention before you start creating the upgrade environment for your site. That is why, Deprecation Checking and Correction Tools become a necessity.  

All in all, there are five tools for your help. 

  • The first one is an IDE or code editor, which comprehends deprecation to kickstart the process. 
  • Then there is the Drupal-check, this one performs a PHP run and let’s you know whether deprecated code is used and where.
  • Third is the Upgrade Status I talked about above, which essentially scans your entire system and finds deprecated code for you. 
  • The Drupal.org Testing System also supports deprecation inspection.
  • Finally, the Upgrade Rector Contributed Project provides a solution for all of the checking done above and that too in an automated manner.

What are the environment requirements for Drupal 9?

When you are roasting the perfect chicken, the temperature in the oven has to be just right, the timing has to be just right and the flavours have to be just right to make it come out all juicy and succulent. I know I have started with the cooking analogy again, but this is the best comparison I could think of. 

Like that perfect roast chicken, Drupal 9 also needs just the right environment from you and your system to make it work. And this involves; 

Web Servers

Drupal 9 can be run using two different web servers and you need to have the latest versions of these two.

  • For nginx, you have to have the version 0.7.x or above; 
  • And for Apache, it has to be at least 2.4.7.

PHP 

PHP is the language Drupal is built on, of course you must know that. What you may not know is that you need PHP 7.3 for operating Drupal 9. The latest version 9.1.0 supports PHP 8.

Database and Hosting Structures 

Drupal 9 has specific requirements for its backend database as well as its hosts. These are; 

  • Version 5.7.8+ for MuSQL or Percona; 
  • Version 10.3.7+ for MariaDB;
  • Version 3.26+ for SQLite; 
  • Version 10 for PostgreSQL; 

And if you are planning to use Drush to build your interfaces, go for version 10, since only that is compatible with Drupal 9.

Have you prioritised the update of the core codebase?

Drupal 8 was the last major release before Drupal 9. Like any Drupal version, there are a number of minor releases being launched and you must keep up with them. If you have done so, your core codebase would be up-to-date and you’d be all set for the upgrade. 

One of the Drupal 9 upgrade requirements is that your site be updated to Drupal 8.8 or 8.9 for you to be prepared for the easiest upgrade of the decade. 

What happens if you are on a version older than 8.8?

What’ll happen is the upgrade won’t go through. Now you might ask why? I’ll give you an analogy, can you skip a few grades and land from 6th grade directly to high school? Even if you could, would you say that getting the hang of the classes you’ll have be quite arduous? It most definitely will be. So, like you can’t skip grades and you can’t skip the minor releases of Drupal 8 before going on to Drupal. Because Drupal 8.9 and Drupal 9 are somewhat similar the upgrade is a breeze, however, Drupal 8.4 and 9 do not share that kind of similarity and you might need to upgrade fast. 

From upgrades in PHP to core modules, from themes to contributed modules and from path aliases and database, almost every aspect requires updating to be compatible with Drupal 9. And only Drupal 8.8 and 8.9 have that level of API compatibility. 

How to upgrade if you have a Drupal version that precedes 8.7? 

For a version older than Drupal 8.7, you would have to perform some small code changes and database updates that are not very complex. An update to the latest version of the core would be required, and this would make the database and contributed modules ready for the 9 upgrade.

You can use Upgrade Status to ensure that all of what you just did is compatible with Drupal 9 or not. 

Then you’ll have to check for deprecated code, like we discussed two sections above. Thereafter, you become ready to update your core codebase to Drupal.

How to upgrade if you have a Drupal version that succeeds 8.8?

If you are already on Drupal 8.8, there isn’t much you have to do in order to prepare yourself. The only task to perform is running the Upgrade Status and checking compatibility. 

There is one more thing that you will have to do. And that is what your existing site is based upon because that will decide how the actual upgrade will flow. 

Your site could be based on Composer or it could be based on Tarball. Make sure you keep that in mind before starting the upgrade, as both work on different upgrade mechanisms. While the former has its own list of steps to follow, the latter is upgraded using Drush.

What about updating the custom code?

After upgrading the core codebase, you would have to pay close attention to your custom code. There is a high chance that your project will have custom modules and themes, these mean a custom code would also there and it is your responsibility to update it. 

You wouldn’t need new tools and techniques to help you here. 

  • Upgrade Status will scan all the projects for custom code deprecations; 
  • Upgrade Rector will fix any minor deprecations by itself. 

Updating the custom code is not that big a task, so it is often neglected and overlooked. However, it is important enough to hamper the entire upgrade. So, don’t skip it.

Can the contributed projects be neglected?

If you have taken care of the core and custom projects, you can’t think about leaving the contributed project without any attention. So, updating them is the next agenda on the Drupal 9 upgrade checklist. 

The reason for updating the contributed projects is the same as the core and custom projects, to check the compatibility of the projects with Drupal 9. And you must know by now, since I am repeating it for what feels like the 100th time, Upgrade Status will help you in the compatibility check.

You must know that even though a module is Drupal 9 compatible, there is the off chance that it can be a version of a major release that’ll bring API changes along with it. You have to be mindful of these modules because they can be detrimental to your site’s health. API changes that you are not prepared for can’t be efficacious by any means.

But what if a module is not Drupal 9 compatible?

There are, of course, not many of them, however there are some and you must know how to handle them. You can do any of these two things in this scenario.

  • Creating, you can create a custom code to update it;  
  • Or waiting, you can wait to see if it gets updated by the time you are ready for the final upgrade;  

What about the contributed modules with patches, do they need attention?

There are situations where you may want to update a contributed module, but an update is not in the picture, rather you have patches available and sometimes, not even that. What would you do? Pay attention to the patches, that is what.

Usually if a patch is available for a module, Upgrade Status would inform you about that and you can implement it. 

Then there is the scenario, when a contributed module has neither an update and nor a patch. For such an instance, the combination of Upgrade Status and Upgrade Rector will have you sorted. You can also check Drupal’s Contributed Modules Guidelines to help you further. 

Have you examined your content and field types thoroughly?

Auditing for site building is a must. Adding fields and customisations in Drupal is quite easy, anyone can do it. This is both good and bad. Good because anyone can do it leading to less dependence on developers, bad because anyone can do it meaning there might be redundant field types and outdated content. And in this step, you check for just that. 

  • Check and eliminate fields that were created for a once-in-a-lifetime event; don’t let them sit and waste away.
  • Remember those content types you created to add content later, well, you haven’t done that yet, so they have to go as well.
  • Update the help text; this might seem trivial to you, but being someone who relied on that piece of text to perform all my initial duties instead of pinging my manager every minute, trust me, it is important. If it is outdated, it is useless and why would you want something useless on your upgraded Drupal 9 site?

Customisations are only great until they don’t start bloating your site causing regression. You do not want that, so don’t just keep all your focus on the code, modules and themes, give some time to the content as well.

How do you become sure that your upgrade is successful?

You will execute the upgrade to make your site better than it already is, that should be the aim, right? However, despite you doing everything to the T, there is a chance that you may go in regression. Your upgrade may be doing everything that it is supposed to, but still your site’s performance can be slower than it was. 

No one wants that scenario to become their reality, so how do you avoid that? How do you ensure that the upgrade is successful? There is certainly a way to ensure that and that’s through testing.

When you perform tests, you get to know what is truly happening with your site. Where you went wrong and what you did right won’t be hidden under a veil. For instance, performing a test to check the administrative and editorial working of the site is ideal. On paper, everything may appear sound, but in reality your editors could be struggling to make even the smallest of edits. And it is only through testing that you’ll be able to find that out. 

You can start at a smaller level with a hello world test and gradually scale up to examine the major aspects of the upgrade. 

Another thing that’ll help you in making the upgrade a success is going slow. Yes, upgrading to Drupal 9 is deemed as the easiest update of the decade, but it is still a huge task to take on. Just the sheer number of modules that wild require updating can become overwhelming, so go slow, update a few modules at one time. This is the chances of errors would be slim and the chances of success would be quite high. 

The Bottom Line 

Drupalists from across the globe had been awaiting the release of Drupal 9 for a long time, now that it is here, there is nothing holding us back from taking the upgrade leap. If I am to be honest, I’d say that I was fearful of the upgrade process. However, when Dries Buytaert say that one of the fundamental issues to address in the Drupal 9 release was the ease of installation, you cannot do anything but believe him. That’s what we should do. 

Apr 06 2021
Apr 06

Do these numbers seem shocking to you? They certainly were for me. And the more unfortunate fact is that these numbers will only grow in the future. So, what should be done? We cannot stop people from getting a disability, that is in no one's hand. However, we can ensure that that disability should not hold them back. We should endeavour for inclusion, wherein every person on this planet gets an equal opportunity, disability not being a criteria impeding on their life experiences. 

To that accord, accessibility was designed, for inclusion, for equality and for making the differently abled feel that their voices and their feelings value. Accessibility has expanded as a concept since its inception and now, it is also being rigorously practised on the web.

The web or the internet is for everyone, you cannot say that it was designed with a particular demographic in mind because it simply wasn’t. From 5-year-olds watching YouTube videos that are making them prepared for school to 70-year-olds watching a YouTube tutorial on how to update their WhatsApp status, the internet is for everyone and web accessibility ensures that it can be accessed by everyone without difficulty. 

This brings us to the meaning of web accessibility, which is to design something on the web that includes the needs of the differently abled. People with auditory, cognitive, visual and speech disabilities amongst others should be able to perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the web with ease. You should remember that accessibility is not just limited to people with disabilities, it also transcends to other aspects of life that may affect one’s ability to perceive what is right in front of them. Old-age, bright sunlight, the size of the device being used and the person’s mental and physical state at one point, all are included when we talk about accessible design on the web. Therefore, when businesses and organisations are able to build such experiences that cater to all of what I just mentioned, only then would they be truly accessible. 

With Tim’s words at the back of our minds, let’s find out what the fuss about accessibility is for. Here are three reasons that sum up the crux of accessibility and why it ought to be practiced down to the very of the web business.

The paramount reason for practising accessibility lies in the numbers we talked about in the introduction. The close to one billion differently-abled people in the world would be able to access your web project with ease. They won’t feel frustrated or undervalued by your business model, if it is accessible. And can you guess what that means? Yes, you’ll be able to target a market that your competitors might have overlooked. And that is enough to get you the revenue you endeavour for.

You know the United Nations? I’m sure you do. And when the UN says something is important and needs to be followed, you follow it. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities clearly states that access to information and communications technologies is a basic human right. And when you make websites that are inaccessible to persons with disabilities, you are going against the UN and you won’t want that.

Even in the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act also establishes grounds for web accessibility and adherence to those guidelines is important to stay on the good side of the law, don’t you agree?

Then, there is the concern about brand image. If I had to describe accessibility’s essence, the only thing that would do it justice would be social inclusion. Including every section of the society and every scenario that may hamper their web experience, and building a web project that takes into account all of that would most definitely get positive feedback from the audience using it. And that is how you build a positive brand image. 
 
Now, tell me are you not on the side of accessibility? Are you not craving to make the entirety of your website truly accessible to the users, whoever they may be, whatever their physical or mental condition be, and wherever they may be? 
 
If that is the case, continue reading because I am going to be talking about accessibility tools that are found in Drupal, a leading CMS, so that you can use those tools and modules to make your site the epitome of accessibility.

Drupal has certain checklists that are used to evaluate the competence of a particular aspect of your project, these are called Drupal Core Gates. There are six in total, ranging from Content to Frontend and testing. And you would be glad to know that accessibility is one of these six parameters, this alone is explanatory enough to let you know how much Drupal prioritises this part of web designing. 

All of these are proof of Drupal’s compliance with accessibility, meaning that Drupal is incomplete without it. With the additional WAI-ARIA support, Drupal is becoming all the more proficient in building projects that are accessible and rich internet applications. 

With that said, let us look at the accessibility-centric features found in Drupal. 

The addition of WAI-ARIA landmarks, live regions, roles and properties has equipped Drupal to provide more semantic HTML5 elements that can be leveraged by assistive technology.

Let’s try to understand this, when an assistive device scans a web page for information, it extracts the data about the Document Object Model (DOM), or the HTML structure of the page. No further information is read by the screen reader.

Often these assistive devices only allow a user to select to read the headings on the page or only the links. It prioritizes according to the hierarchy in which the headings and links are presented making browsing easier for users of assistive devices. So, HTML and WAI-ARIA help in achieving screen-friendliness and making the UIs more interactive.

Aural users play a major role where accessible design is concerned. To that accord, Drupal.announce() has been made a part of Drupal core so that timely messages can be delivered to these users relying on a screen reader with different tones as well; you can be assertive or polite, it is up to you. This is the Aural Alerts feature.

Users that are visually impaired and the ones who cannot operate a mouse can opt for the Tabbing Manager. This is a feature that would essentially become a guide for these users, so that they are able to access all the salient features and that too in a logical order. 

Your content can be displayed in multifarious ways; it is up to you to decide how you want it. With Drupal’s CSS classes, you can control the way your content is hidden or not. Would certain screen readers can view it or all of them, would hidden, visually hidden or focusable or entirely invisible, you would get to decide every single nuance.   

This is due to the centralised alternative to CSS display:none; and the standardisation of the HTML5 Boilerplate naming convention. 

It is important to provide the necessary feedback to users about the results of their form submission. Both the times when successful and when not.  This incorporates an in-line feedback that is typically provided after form submission.

Notifications have to be concise and clear. The error message, in particular, should be easy to understand and provide simple instructions on how the situation can be resolved. And in case of successful submission, a message to confirm would do. 

Drupal forms have turned out to be impressively more open to the expansion of available inline form errors. It is now easier for everyone to identify what errors they might have made when filling in a web form.

Fieldset labels are utilized as systems for gathering related segments of forms. Effectively implemented

label gives a visual diagram around the shape field gathering. This can, to a great degree, be valuable for individuals with cognitive disabilities as it viably breaks the form into subsections, making it easier to understand.

Drupal presently uses fieldsets for radios and checkboxes in the Form API. This helps towards additionally upgrading forms in Drupal. This feature is also being used in the advanced search option. 

The Alternative Text 

People with good eyesight can see the images, but what about the visually impaired? They won’t be able to see the images. And images are important in context to what you want to portray in your content. So, what is the solution?

It is an alternative text, this text describes everything going on in the picture, so that the people without sight are able to understand what the picture is about. 

Drupal has alternative text as default to make the content accessible to everyone and content creators understand its importance. However, the default can be overridden through CKEditor or Image Fields, if that is what you might prefer. 

The Bartik 

If you think about it, a link is like any other piece of content on a webpage, yet it is different because it has the power to take you to a different page for more information. This power should be highlighted properly. And Bartik is here to help in that. A Bartik underlines a link, which basically highlights it and makes it easily identifiable, aiding to enhance accessibility further. 

The jQuery UI 

Drupal’s autocomplete feature is quite useful and jQuery UI is helping in elevating its usefulness. Being implemented in Views UI and in other places, it is improving Drupal’s accessibility standards. With the involvement of jQuery UI community, the benefits are being experienced by both the projects in leaps.

Drupal Accessibility Also Transcends to Developers: D7AX

When we hear accessibility, we always go to the users. Accessibility has to be about them, right? We must ensure that everything on the site is totally accessible to every user, regardless of their physical condition. 

This notion is true, yet it is only half true. Yes, the majority of the accessibility guidelines focus on the users, however, the developers, the people who actually build a project from the ground up also need to prioritise in terms of accessibility. So, the development process has to be accessible for them to build something great that they are fully capable of doing.

And Drupal provides this as well. Drupal has focused on accessibility for developers and that is what makes me as a Drupalists proud of this platform. Developers can depend on Drupal for support when they are creating accessible sites and projects. 

The D7AX is shining glory of Drupal in this accord. It makes it extremely convenient for developers to find contributed modules and themes that support the development of accessible websites. 

So, what is D7AX? 

It is a kind of platform that lets other developers know that a module has been designed after following all the resources for developing accessible modules. When you see a hashtag saying D7AX on a module page, know that it is accessibility friendly. 

Whenever you use a D7AX module, you are contributing in making that module a success. Using it would mean any issues that were overseen before might be caught by you and resolved, making you a D7AX developer as well and a contributor in Drupal accessibility, 

What about themes? 

D7AX is not just limited to modules, it also works to resolve the accessibility challenges found in the theme layers. It works in similar fashion to that of modules and the hashtag lets the users know that a theme is compliant to the accessibility guidelines. The Accessibility handbook will help you further in this regard. 

Is there an accessibility group?

Yes, there is and it is the Drupal Accessibility Group. It would answer all your questions about Drupal accessibility and make accessibility come alive on your fingertips. With regular sessions and talks, you’ll get to know all the hints, tips and tricks about it. 

Your feedback is always going to be valued at Drupal, the accessibility group is no different. Even if you have concerns about Drupal lacking in an aspect of accessibility, you should raise it. Who knows maybe you end up making Drupal even better. 

This is the kind of indulgence by developers as part of one community that makes Drupal an ideal place for developers to build something that is universally accessible because they have access to the ideas and work of other developers and that gives Drupal an unparalleled edge. 

Modules Making Drupal Sites Universally Accessible

Knowing that Drupal caters to accessibility for the administrators and developers as well as the visitors does give a sense of relief that we are going on the right track with Drupal. However, is that enough? I don’t think so. 

Until you know how to effectively implement the aforementioned accessibility features into your project, you can’t sit back and relax. To help you in executing accessibility to the T, here is a list of the modules that will enable you to deploy a universally accessible project. 

#1 The CKEditor Family 

You cannot talk about Drupal accessibility modules without talking about the CKEditor. It is a WYSIWYG module that provides umpteen features like structured content and clean markup and convenient drag and drop features based on its UI along with pretty secure safety guidelines for your content creators.

The CKEditor in itself is pretty powerful when it comes to accessibility, however, when you bring five of its variants into the mix, it has the potential of making Drupal even more accessible. Let’s have a look at them now.

CKEditor Accessibility Auditor 

The HTML_CodeSniffer Accessibility Auditor comes in the package of CKEditor Accessibility Auditor with a button for the same that audits the source code of your current content. 

If you have a specific error; 
If you want a success criteria and suggestions of techniques; 
If you want to know what triggered the error; 

Everything would be found by these modules and the results will be in front of you almost as soon as you run the auditor.

CKEditor Accessibility Checker 

The CKEditor Accessibility Checker provides a plugin with a creativeness for accessibility inspection of your WYSIWYG body created in the CKEditor itself. Of course, the inspection would lead on to immediate solutions of any problems found. You should know that this innovation plugin is the Accessibility Checker, hence the name of the module.

CKEditor Balloon Panel 

This module is used in relation to the previous one to create floating panels that have accessibility tips. These floating panels are a courtesy of Balloon Panel plugin that make it possible for you to present as content at whichever specific position you want to, 

CKEditor Abbreviation 

The CKEditor Abbreviation’s purpose is quite simple. If you want to add a button to the CKEditor to help you insert and edit abbreviations, it will do that for you. The addition of a link to edit the abbreviation is an added bonus.

USWDS CKEditor Integration

Like the name says, the USWDS CKEditor Integration module integrates the US Web Design System to the CKEditor, which has become a requirement for government websites. You can use the USWDS classes and components and inject them into the CKEditor, all without opening the source even once.

#2 Automatic Alternate Text 

Did you know that there is an API that can actually process images through its state-of-the-art algorithms and return with an output that is quite on point? It can sense the content of the image, its maturity levels and even the prominent colours in it. 

The Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services API is able to do this with ease. Drupal’s Automatic Alternative Text module utilises the competence of this API and provides alt text to images your users did not. 

However, you must be aware of the fact that the way we perceive images and the technology would perceive it may not be similar, so the produced alt text can be different to what you may have expected. 

#3 A11Y:Form Helpers 

Remember the accessible forms I mentioned as a Drupal feature, the A11Y: Form Helpers helps in achieving that. It aims to fix the accessibility issues found in Drupal forms. 

This module’s features are quite impressive. 

  • You do not require any HTML validation; 
  • You can include readable inline error messages for screen readers; 
  • You can even put in pre-filled attributes to certain form elements, which is always a winner.

#4 Block ARIA Landmarks Role

People usually prefer when you come straight to the point and skip all the small talk. And ARIA landmarks are just the means for that; it allows users to skip the unnecessary and switch to the main content. 

With the Block ARIA Landmarks Role, you can add extra elements to the block configuration forms and users can allocate an ARIA landmark role or label to a specific block. Having been created with inspiration from the Block Class, this module does cater to accessibility.

#5 Editoria11y

Editoria11y is a module that caters to the accessibility needs of the content creators and editors. Being a user-friendly checker, it focuses on the accessibility concerns of content authors and rectifies them. 

  • It ensures that speckcheck is always on and corrects the content mistakes as and when they happen.
  • It ensures that errors never happen in relation to Views, Layout Builder, Media and similar modules. This is because it runs in context with them and its checkers are always running.
  • Lastly, it ensures that content issues get fixed by prioritising them. Its exclusive focus on them ensures page editors don’t miss anything that is easily fixable by them.

#6 Fluidproject UI Options 

A web page has a lot of different elements that might need modifications to make them aligned with the accessibility standards set by Drupal and W3C. The Fluidproject UI Options tends to make these modifications easy for you. 

Be it; 

  • the page’s font size;
  • the page’s font style; 
  • the page’s height; 
  • the page’s contrast ratios; 
  • the page’s link style; 

everything can be sorted and the changes can be retained using cookies. However, it does come with certain limitations, using CSS gradients for contrast settings is one of them. 

#7 High Contrast 

You will have a theme that you are currently using, then there will be a theme that would be a high contrast version of the same. Reading this along with the name of the module, you must be able to guess what this module is all about. 

With High Contrast, you will be able to switch between your theme and a high contrast version of the same. All you would need to do is press tab on the keyboard after installing the module and you’ll get the high contrast pop-up link on your screen and the work is done.

#8 Siteimprove

Aiming for high quality content along with higher traffic and a higher level of digital performance is not unreasonable. And doing all of this by adhering to the regulatory compliance is what Siteimprove is known for. 

Being a comprehensive cloud-based Digital Presence Optimisation software, it offers a smooth integration through its Drupal module, wherein  you can capitalise Siteimprove efficiency in content creation and editing process.

Be it testing the content; 
Be it fixing what was found; 
Be it optimising the perpetual work; 

You will have the analytics and content insights at your disposal to make this happen. Siteimprove’s plugins ability to lessen the gap between Drupal and the software’s Intelligence Platform is the sole reason for these amazing benefits. 

#9 Style Switcher 

Have you ever found yourself in a conundrum wherein creating themes and building sites seems like a mammoth task? If you have, you most likely would have been facing issues with the alternate stylesheets. 

The Style Switcher module makes all of this a breeze by focusing on the themer as well as the site builder. It provides an alternate stylesheet for both in the admin section. These styles are presented in a list of links in a block to your site visitors. 

And there is more, with the module making use of cookies, these styles are always remembered and when someone returns to a page, he is welcomed by the same style he chose in his previous visit. Pretty amazing, right?

#10 Text Resize 

Have you ever squinted your eyes to read a piece of text that is too small? Did you get frustrated by it? Now, imagine you have a weak eyesight and focusing is always an issue. Would you be able to read a small font size? I don’t think you will and now you know how the visually impaired feel.

The Text Resize module helps in making the visually impaired feel less frustrated. Using jQuery and jQuery Cookie, it creates a Drupal block that allows users to change the font size of the text, making your pages more accessible. You would be glad to know that it can also resize images. However, you have to remember to enable the Text Resize block of your theme, only then would the block appear. 

#11 Civic Accessibility Toolbar  

Civic Accessibility Toolbar has a pretty similar principle to the previous module. Unlike the Text Resize module, it not only aids changes in the font size of the text, but it also helps users in switching to a theme version that has a higher contrast. 

Now, much like Text Resize, this module also operates on the creation of blocks for the utilities being implemented for accessibility with the visually impaired in mind. 

Bartik, Garland, Zen Starterkit, Stark and Oliveiro are all the themes in which the Civic Accessibility Toolbar has been trialed and tested.

#12 HTML Purifier

Auditing your site with a thorough and secure whitelist as well as ensuring that your documents are compliant to the standards of W3C’s specification will keep you on the good side of accessibility. Drupal’s HTML Purifier module does just that through the HTML filter library of the standard stringent HTML Purifier

With this module you can say goodbye to all malicious code.

Custom fonts; 
Inline styles; 
Images and tables; 
Restricted tags; 

All of these are possible when you combine the HTML Purifier with your WYSIWYG editors. You will hit the standard compliant ball out of the park with a home run through this module. 

Now that we have discussed all the necessary modules that aid in making your Drupal site universally accessible, let’s listen to what one of our frontend developers at OpenSense Labs has to say about Drupal and its part in accessibility.

“Drupal Core on its own takes care of the accessibility in the site. Since many accessibility challenges are confined to Frontend (Theme) Layer, it is better to have good practices in place for frontend development to ensure accessibility compatible sites.” 

I personally feel that he is right. There are hundreds of modules in Drupal and you can use as many of them when building your site. With so many modules at work, your site is bound to be extremely functional and impressive. However, it still might not be accessible, if you don’t keep accessibility as an imperative parameter during the building process. 

I’ll explain this with a few modules for better understanding. 

If you look at all of these modules, they are not blatantly related to accessibility, but all of them are somehow adding to your site’s accessibility appeal. Now, if you developers are constantly building with accessibility at the back of their minds, they would use these modules without any hesitation. 

Therefore, like our frontend developer said, Drupal accessibility is all about good practices throughout the building process and throughout the life of the web project. 

Are You Certain Your Project is Accessible, Let’s Review!

Up until now we have discussed the accessibility features found in Drupal and the modules that support the implementation of those features. Do you think that is enough? Do you think the installing and running a bunch of modules makes all your accessibility work done and now you can sit back and relax? If you think so my friend, you are utterly wrong. 

By running modules, you cannot be certain that your site is truly accessible, that it checks all the accessibility boxes. You have to run a thorough review on all the parameters that can affect your site’s accessibility and after reviewing the results and rectifying them, you can sit back and chill as much as you want. 

So, let’s start the review.

Review through Automation 

You need to start your reviewing process with Drupal’s automated tools that are designed to assess your project’s accessibility levels and issues arising out of it and consequently resolving them. 

Some of these tools are; 

WAVE;
Tenon;
Accessibility Insights;
Google Lighthouse;
Siteimprove;
And Siteimprove Accessibility Checker.

With axe-core, you can automate some of them and sit back while they do their work.

Review the Keyboard

Keyboard navigation is of great significance when it comes to web accessibility, so you cannot afford to go wrong with it. Everything and every element on your screen must be accessible through a keyboard and with a tab order that makes sense.

When making your assessment, look for things like these; 

  • The tab should work forwards and backwards; 
  • The interactive elements should be highlighted from others; 
  • The document object model should be followed in the tabbing progression, making it natural; 
  • The skip option is available for content that is repeated; 
  • The user should be able to skip overlays, modals and autocomplete widgets; 
  • The hovering mouse content should be accessible through the keyboard as well. 

Pointers like these amongst others would make your project keyboard friendly. One more thing, you should remember to review this on mobile and tablets as well to avoid any responsive breakpoints.

Review the Colour and Contrast 

Next comes the colour and the contrast, which should be prioritised too. The foreground and the background need to be quite distinguished from each other. 4.5:1 is the ideal ratio of text to the background. Anything lesser than that would be in direct contradiction to the accessibility guidelines. 

You also need to remember that colour cannot be the only way to relay information. Think of your audience, who might be colour blind; would they be able to gather what you are trying to say?

There are two boxes with the same kind of figures differentiated with colour, but the second has the addition of numbers as a desciption


The second demonstration in this image is what you should always go for. 

Review the Content 

You also need to review your content. By content, I don’t exactly mean the words you use, although the language should be easy to understand. 

Apart from that, there is also the changing content such as the list of search results, which keeps updating all the time. This is called the dynamic content and you must announce these changes through assistive technology; ARIA Live Regions help in this regard.

Headings are a part of the content as well. In this regard, you have to make sure that your headings are not only prominent enough, but also descriptive enough to ensure that something reading it understands its entire context. 

Then there are the icons, which cannot just be the icons because the users would not be able to know their functionality without a proper description. Give labels to all your icons, if you haven’t already. 

Review the Sound and Video 

This one is for the deaf community and people who have hard hearing problems. The elements on your site that are relaying information through sounds and videos should have accompanying textual transcripts and captions so that people who cannot hear what is being said and read it. This would automatically make your site more accessible. 

I used both captions and textual transcripts because this review also focuses on the users with visual impairments. This is because for a complex video, captions alone may not be enough. There may be a need to textually describe the scene to people who cannot see what is happening and captions would only provide context to some degree. 

Review the Animations and Autoplay 

There is a high chance that your project might have animations, audios and videos. Obviously, there would be a purpose for their presence on your site, but you have to consider the user as well and that means avoid autoplay. 

Videos that autoplay and don’t pause by themselves are a nuisance to me, frankly, if I want to watch, I’ll press play myself. So, you should also turn the autoplay option off and even if it is on, the animations, audios and videos should stop playing after a couple of seconds. 

You should also think about adding easy controls to play and pause these media items. 

Review the Screen Reader 

You are going to have users that would completely rely on a screen reader, so ensuring that there are no issues with that has to be on your review checklist. 

For this, 

  • You should assess that the same information is being relayed to users using assistive technology and the sighted users. 
  • You should check the flow of information, ensuring that it is logical much like the tabbing order in keyboard accessibility. 
  • You should see that all your links make sense; something like ‘click here’ won’t really help the screen reader user. 
  • Finally, you should ensure that all the images have alternative text describing them in a clear and concise way. 

Conclusion 

Web accessibility has become quite popular today. If you adhere to the W3C’s guidelines on accessibility, you could achieve wonders for your brand image and enhance your consumer base to a great deal. However, if you do not, your image would downgrade and so would your revenue. The aim of accessibility should be to create a web project that is accessible to someone without any disability, someone with a physical disability and someone with cognitive disabilities on an equal without a shadow of bias.

Accessibility features in Drupal are so comprehensive and whole that they would not let the latter outcome be even an option. I have tried covering all of Drupal’s accessibility modules and tools and I really hope that you will take a note of them and build a project that gets universal attention. Good luck!

Apr 06 2021
Apr 06

SEO is the process of optimising a website's content with the use of certain keywords with the goal of ranking better in the search results of a search engine, for example, Google. SEO is independent of PPC (pay-per-click) results, and focuses on organic rankings. If a business wants to make the most of the web to reach its targeted audience, Search Engine Optimisation is one aspect that cannot be ignored. According to Backlinko, less than 1% of users care to explore beyond the first page of Google.

black and green graph showing the number of people who go to the second page of Google while searchingSource : Backlinko

Website content still relies heavily on SEO for traction, legitimised by a recent survey stating that several bloggers found that SEO was the second most important driver of traffic for their websites.

white and green bar graph tracking the importance of SEO in driving trafficSource : Backlinko

Owing to these parameters, Drupal has taken into account to include several modules to facilitate SEO in Drupal. Not only are there multiple intent SEO friendly features, Drupal also provides several customizations to fit into the trajectories of various kinds of businesses online.

The Drupal SEO Checklist 

Here are some must have SEO modules in Drupal.

For the overall framework

  • Real Time SEO for Drupal acts as a constant alarm clock to remind you of things that you might have missed. Since there are a number of technicalities involved in SEO, one might skip one or two if left unassisted. Real time SEO keeps a track of things like post length, meta description, consistency of the focus keyword and its placement in the appropriate places etc.
  • Drupal’s SEO checklist module makes use of best practices to check your website for proper optimisation.. It automates most of the on page optimisation making use of the latest techniques that are updated in the module regularly. The way it functions is by breaking down the tasks into functionalities like Title Tags, Paths, Content etc. Links to the associated modules are attached against the task. It also keeps a track of the entire SEO history by placing a time stamp next to each saved item. The SEO checklist module, however, is not for newbies as it requires the user to know the basics of SEO to make optimum use of it. 
  • The Require on Publish module is best to use in cases where the content has fields such as tags or SEO data that one doesn't really need to fill in until the content is going to be published. Hence, it marks required only when the fields are actually required in the process, and not before that. 
  • One of the most popular ways of trapping and practicing SEO is to use Google Analytics to look for the trending keywords and then incorporating those in your content. The Google Analytics module allows a number of statistical features to be added to your website like domain tracking, AdSense support, Modal dialog tracking, enhanced link attribution support etc. thus forming an extensive web statistics tracking system for the site. Additionally, you could also use the Googalytics module that provides for integration of Google Analytics in Drupal.

Linking it Right

  • Linkit provides a simple interface for internal and external linking with WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors with the help of an autocomplete field. This module has, by default, support for all types of entities that define a link template, for example, taxonomy, nodes, files, comments etc. Linkit, however, does not have support for link attributes like title, class or target and one would have to use the Editor Advanced Link for the purpose.
  • The Link checker module does exactly what its name suggests. It extracts links from one's content and then at regular intervals, tries to detect broken hypertext links by checking the sites and evaluating the HTTP response codes. If a link check fails, it shows it in the separate section on the content page, hands making it extremely simple to rectify any errors.
  • The Footnotes module creates automatically numbered footnote references in the content, making the article look better structured.
  • The Redirect module provides the user the ability to create manually redirects for all the content, while also maintaining a canonical URL for it - hence redirecting all other requests to that path.
  • Pathauto could also be used in such a case to automatically generate the URL aliases and path redirects, to ensure that the changes in the URL alias do not break the existing links. 

For Navigation

  • The Easy Breadcrumb module is a navigation tracker, which when embedded in your pages, utilises data from the work you have already done to generate your paths' alias. It is a plug and play module that auto generates the breadcrumb by using the current URL. 
  • On the other hand the Menu Breadcrumb module allows the user to use the menu that the current page belongs to for the breadcrumb. It uses the titles of the parent menus to generate the breadcrumbs.

Sitemap

  • Sitemap module helps  make navigation user friendly by providing the visitors a sitemap that gives them an overview of the entire site. It also has provisions for displaying the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds for all the blogs and also for the various categories to explore within the site.
  • To generate a sitemap a Simple XML Sitemap can also be used. The sitemaps generated by this module are compliant to Google's standard regarding multilingual content and are also good with respect to SEO in Drupal.
  • The XML Sitemap module takes into account the sitemaps.org specifications, while creating sitemaps, helping search engines like Google, Ask and Yahoo! to better understand and place the website.
  • Using Menu Attributes, one can specify additional attributes for items in a menu such as ID, name, class etc. The user wants to give the menu and ID so that it is easily detectable using jQuery or when you want to customise the menu. 

For tags

  • Metatag module is quite useful for a methodical Search Engine Optimisation. It auto generates structured metadata like meta tags, meta description and meta keywords that help improve the overall ranking of the website in the search engine results.
  • Hreflang tags are used by search engines to serve the correct language or regional URLs in the search results. Once these tags are generated, the Hreflang module automatically adds these tags to the respective pages. 
  • The Schema.org Metatag module could be used to further extend the Metatag module to display data in a structured format in the head of web pages.
  • The Power Tagging module is used to extract the content of your entity, like node or user, and offer you the concepts and existing free terms that fit best in the context. It has the provision of tagging the entire content automatically via bulk tagging, and also supports multilingual tagging.
  • Similar By Terms brings out the similarities in content items based out of taxonomy terms and links assigned to the content, making the site easily navigable.

Combat Error 404

Instead of displaying '404 page not found', the Search 404 module performs a search on the existing keywords in the URL. This helps retain visitors who might happen upon outdated links.

These are some of the major search engine optimisation modules that help Drupal websites achieve optimum SEO, whether directly or indirectly. While the software is constantly evolving to adapt to the changing norms, SEO remains too dynamic of a subject. And with constant parallel innovation in the terms of technology, SEO also keeps undergoing significant changes owing to these trends. Some Optimisation trends that are projected to stay afloat in 2021 are listed below.

SEO trends in 2021

Looking for user’s search intent 

As User experience expands and seeps into different arenas, its effect is bound to be seen in SEO as well. Google has been pretty mindful about making search intent a top priority, ie, the search engine aims to display results regarding the search intent of the user. To figure out the search intent, it is imperative to examine the keyword. The intent might be informational, transactional, commercial or navigational. For example, a person that searches for 'buy protein bars' has a transactional intent, and tracking this, the search engine is likely to redirect the person to an online shopping site or a grocery store nearby. But if the person searches for 'best protein bars', the search results will greatly vary, leading him to a blog or an informational website.

blue, green and yellow boxes talking about user intent while searching for somethingSource : Search Engine Land

Customer Retention

Not just customer acquisition, but retention also needs to be considered while planning out the SEO of a website. When a visitor turns up, you should be interacting with them, answering their questions, and every need that they are searching for. Each keyword that has been used in optimisation of the site should be justified, and there should be appropriate information about it.

Brand SERP Optimisation

SERP (Search Engine Result Page) tracking is projected to become the norm in 2021. This means that brands will go the extra mile to define who they are and what they offer in accordance with Google's Passage Ranking. The SERP layout is projected to undergo change as well, with businesses switching from creating several verticals within the website for different topics to creating long pages for the entire content, for better ranking in the search results. 

For this to formulate, we may see more personalized research on consumer behaviour in 2021.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals include features like page speed, multiple device friendliness, image optimisation in  different devices, compliance to security protocols etc. Google introduced core web vitals as a ranking factor in 2021. Hence, it is another aspect that needs to be considered while optimising a website. SEO now is not just about whether it answers your users' queries but also about how satisfied the user is with that information and also whether the environment in which it is being presented seems trustworthy. 

Importance of mobile SEO

About 56% of global internet traffic in 2021 has been attributed to be coming from mobile devices, hence while planning out optimisation strategies, the primary area of concern should be the performance of your website when accessed from a smartphone. Hence, a bare minimum mobile experience isn’t going to suffice if you want Google to consider your website setting out the ranking.

Web Automation

The quality as well as quantity of AI (Artificial Intelligence) generated content cannot be beaten, and hence it is expected to increase monumentally in the following year. Jesse Mcdonald, Optimisation Lead at IBM, believes that it is going to be one of the biggest SEO trends in 2021 to roll out automated functionalities with respect to optimisation, cutting down manual SEO wherever possible. 

Content is still the king

It has been witnessed that blogs of over 2000 words outperform blogs of 1000 words or less, the former perform better with respect to Google's E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) guidelines. Hence, the long form content trend is to continue in 2021 as well, as most websites try to expand their content to said length.

Content also has immense potential when it comes to expanding the audience base of the article. One sure shot way of getting yourself some subtle marketing is to include some statistics, survey or study that constitutes research related to the topic, as others writing on the same topic will keep linking you in their document while using your research data.

Graphics do the job of grabbing attention really quick, hence visual content should be added at regular intervals for sustaining the reader’s attention. Concept visuals, i.e., visuals that explain tricky concepts are especially helpful and are more likely to be shared and referred to. 

Lastly, all the constant research that is done over topics from time to time can be brought to good use by presenting a bunch of content on a specific topic as a ‘hub’. These work exponentially well for SEO, and also are a form of value rich content that is likely to grab attention in a good way and be shared widely.

Visual Search

With the popularity of Google lens soaring, visual search has been trending throughout the year and will continue to occupy space in 2021 trends as well. Therefore, optimising images on your website has become as essential, as according to Backlinko, as 32.5% pages that ranked in Google Lens had a keyword in their Title tag that matched Google's Vision Label.

Conversational UI: Voice and Video interfaces

Google Home and Alexa how become the new members of most internet connected households today, simply because the added convenience these devices bring with themselves. This is the reason why Search Engine Optimisation for voice search is not an option to consider anymore - it is quite a necessity. With Google and Alexa constantly referring to sites that consist of the user's question and answer both, FAQ lists are becoming more and more important. According to Google, 4 out of 10 US adults perform at least one voice search in a day. 

Videos are a significant element that are driving significant traffic to websites, as demonstrated by the following graph.

white graph with blue bars tracking the kind of media bloggers use for the SEO of their siteSource : Orbit Media Studios 

With a dedicated social media platform just for videos (YouTube), the change is quite inevitable and was bound to happen. Video Optimisation is the future of SEO today, hence keyword optimisation needs to be done in the multimedia of your site as well.

Featured Snippets 

Google's search results have become smart as well. With increased focus on User experience, the search engine realises that it is pretty inconvenient for a user to click on every website to read the contained content. So it displays the related content in the form of a Q&A as a part of its featured snippets.

Backlinks

Creating backlinks can also effectively improve SEO rankings and drive traction to the site, but this can only be achieved when the content is good enough to quote, or already has a good enough SEO or an online presence in order to be tracked by other websites. Guest posting is another way of tapping into backlinks. 

Google Passage Ranking

Similar to Featured Snippets, Google has also started to run specific passages from websites that appear relevant to the search result. Google also specified that this feature does not mean that the passages are assessed independently of their pages, but simply means that specific paragraphs can also be an additional ranking factor from now on. 

Domain Authority

With E-A-T evaluation setting in, domain authority is less about links and more about this part of the guideline now - as Google says that it wants to rank pages that are 'reliable sources' and appear to have content that is reflective of the qualities of 'expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness'. 

  • Creators of the content of the page are taken into account - is the content generated at random by freelancers, or are these people experts in the particular topic? 
  • A suspicious looking website will not rank well on Google's search results, as the notions of transparency and accountability are gaining ground widely.
  • Maintaining a good reputation outside of a website is also equally important. There is nothing worse than your website claiming something and external sources disagreeing with it. Similarly, being cited on other websites on a positive note is considered while ranking as well.

Combating decreasing CTRs

It is common knowledge that organic click-through-rates are down. And yet it comes as no surprise, because it is quite difficult for organic to survive among features like SERP, Ads, and others. There is a way to combat this practice and stand out, even though a little, in this race - and that is by creating keyword rich URLs, as they have been shown to get much more clicks than URLs without the keyword that the user has searched for.

Conclusion

Even after 20 years of its conception, Drupal continues to remain a favourite in website creation, and that is primarily due to its high level of customisation and adaptability to the present trends. Today we see individuals and organisations both contributing to and relying on Drupal because it has a solid foundation of what it takes to stay up to date, even when it comes to SEO - through its extensive modules and distributions. Rest assured, come what may, the community stands prepared to make the most of these upcoming trends.

Mar 24 2021
Mar 24

Distributions are pre-made bundles of utility tools that greatly simplify web developers' work by cancelling out the time spent on creating Drupal websites from scratch. These are complete Drupal copies that consist of Drupal core along with some additional software such as a theme or an installation profile, with a specific purpose in mind.

There are two kinds of distributions -

(A) Full featured distributions that provide everything that you will require for specialised use cases.

(B) Other Distributions comprising quick start tools to simplify the work of developers starting to build a website. 

Why use Drupal Distributions?

Drupal distributions are an extremely convenient way of starting a website, as one does not need to build everything from scratch. 

  • Launching your website becomes a matter of hours instead of weeks. 
  • You don't need a resource with a specific skill set for the different elements of your website.
  • Maintenance on the site becomes even easier as the whole set of modules and on site components can be upgraded in one single Drupal update. 

Major Drupal Distributions 

Let's have an overview of some of the top Drupal distributions and the function that they serve. 

For starting a new Drupal Website

  • Commerce Kickstart is a great distribution for businesses looking to get started with Drupal Commerce, being great for creating online stores. Customised templates, themes and modules in this distribution are specifically set to create an e-commerce website with ease. The new Commerce Kickstart 2.x also provides a demo store to serve as a starting point for new websites, fully stacked with features like search configuration, promotions engine, analytics and reporting tools, marketing tools, payment options and a lot more. 
  • If you are about to work with a lot of repetitive work, consider working with Varbase. Its underlying idea is DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself), as it automates a bulk of your work through the use of a vast majority of modules, features and configurations.                                                             
  • One of the best Drupal Distributions that can be used as a base for a Drupal site is Panopoly. It is designed to be a general foundation for site building and also to act as a base framework upon which to build other distributions and components. Open Atrium, Open Church, and Web Experience Toolkit are some major public distributions that are using Panopoly.
  • Base can also be used for a simple installation procedure in a new website. In addition, if you want to relieve yourself of the burden of detecting initial configuration settings, go in with Hostmaster (Aegir) distribution as it does the job for you. DevShop Devmaster can also be used to develop and host Drupal sites.
  • If your website is potentially scalable and you want a distribution that supports the idea, Drutopia would be a wise choice as it supports multiple other distributions. It needs to be built using Composer. Scalability is also provided by Drustack’s highly customisable environment. 

If you’re dealing with Media and Publishing

Thunder and Lightning are distributions meant for the media and publishing industry. Thunder consists of a lot of handpicked publisher centric modules meant for professional publishing. It also offers custom regulations and makes it easy to install and use new functionalities, hence keeping up with adaptability and personalization. Along the same lines, Lightning aims to empower developers and editorial teams to create professional authoring experiences by providing a framework that is both lightweight and documentation friendly for a smooth publishing process. Using Composer is recommended to build the codebase for a project based on Lightning.

For official usage

  • Brainstorm is a distribution best suited for corporate use by companies that wish to display their best features and services to the customers. With its engaging User Interface, it enhances the User Experience manifold. Hence, Brainstorm is perfect for making a good first impression, as one can also upload their portfolio and create blog posts on the site, thereby putting their best foot forward. It performs well across mobiles, laptops and tablets owing to its adaptive and responsive design.

Similar distributions that provide for a digital display of a corporate’s services are Multipurpose Corporate Profile, Corporate Profile and Commerce Profile. Along similar lines, if your company is looking to recruit, the Recruiter distribution is perfect to set up a recruitment platform.                                                                        

  • While Droopler is also meant to provide an enterprise with an all inclusive and attractive corporate website, an additional feature of Droopler is that it can also be used with Drupal commerce to kickstart a related project. It also provides custom theming and colour palettes to suit one's requirements.
  • If you are a startup or a small business, Druppio might be a better choice for you owing to its modern flat design and easy configuration. Seeds is a great starter kit for small and medium enterprises too.  
  • If you have an active client base your business interacts regularly with, you could utilise OpenideaL, which is described as an innovation management system to share strategic decisions regarding one’s future products and services with the clients.

For People’s Participation

  • Open Atrium is one of the best Drupal Distributions if you’re looking for something meant for collaboration and engagement of the community to develop solutions and discuss issues together. In addition to this, Open Atrium also helps systematise bug resolution and other tasks by providing features like document and event management, issue tracking, media management and also a work tracker to monitor everyone's tasks - hence leading to a transparent work culture and accelerated organisational growth. 
  • As Drupal is a community driven software, user engagement holds a significant place in the functioning of the platform. Open social creates digital spaces that enable the members of the community to use the distribution's out-of-the-box feature for knowledge sharing, and discussing ideas and solutions. Open Social is used by governments, NGOs and a number of big and small organisations. Extensions to the distribution that expand the use case even further our Real Time Chat, Webinar, Native App, Forms and Surveys, etc.
  • Alternatively, you could also use Open Outreach for public engagement, as it comes loaded with features like event calendars, image and video sharing, and contact management for better collaboration.
  • If the focus is on a productive social engagement, OpenLucius is a great distribution for the purpose with its utility features like social intranet, collaboration toolkit, document management system, real time chatting, notebooks, etc.The usage for OpenLucius is open to both formal and informal sectors.
  •  If your social or official setup requires frequent conferences, Conference Organising Distribution is great for the purpose as it comes loaded with features like event suggestion, selection and scheduling for the event - and social networking for afterwards.
  • For systematic community engagement, the Local Baha'i Community Website Incubator can be used. Its in built features include a multi user site, wherein each member can have their own profile, a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, a news column and an events calendar. 

For hospitality purposes

Easy Booking offers the user to set up a website that includes every feature that is needed to manage a hotel, inn or a hostel online. Functional both from the owners’ end and towards the visitors' convenience, Easy Booking offers a bunch of options to the guests to facilitate a good User experience like contacting hotel administration, following the hotel's newsletter, or simply being acquainted with all the special offers and discounts. 

For online education

  • The ongoing pandemic has made online learning the new normal, and Opigno is a distribution that works towards bringing to life this new reality. It contains all the features required to create engaging learning paths by first assessing the innate knowledge of the users, and then monitoring their achievements by using reporting dashboards. While ensuring skill addition, Opigno also awards certificates to legitimise the acquired knowledge. Opigno is, hence, a great distribution for universities and e-learning organisations. 
  • Vardoc is another distribution meant for knowledge seeking purposes. It is built using Varbase, and is perfect to host a huge amount of content arranged in a structured manner, streamlining the content in an easily navigable layout. 

Specialised for Governmental organisations

  • deGov is a Drupal distribution meant for addressing the needs of government organisations at different levels. It is used for managing the working of official websites and publishing information. It also provides for citizen engagement portals and civic issue tracking portals for greater transparency.
  • While deGov was developed keeping in mind the needs of the German government, the distribution aGov was created according to the guidelines of the Australian government with the purpose of smooth transition of Federal, State and Local government agencies' websites to Drupal while retaining complete control of their codebase and choice of hosting provider. GovCMS was also created for the Australian government for ensuring a seamless workflow within the government's digital functioning.  
  • Another distribution meant to simplify the working of the public sector is Dimpact WIM. It is used by a municipality to state an online presence and to remain connected to other municipalities of certain regions in The Netherlands, in order to discuss queries and solutions among themselves. This is aimed towards bringing out an integrated public framework. Drupal voor Gementeen is also used by the Dutch government for the same purpose.
  • Also aiming at transparency and citizen participation in organisations is OpenPublic. Open Public makes it convenient for open governments to function with features focusing on providing open government requirements, such as improving citizen services, providing public access to data and providing a public forum for two way communication with agencies, without compromising accessibility, security, or usability. 

For an engaging and innovative website

  • Web Experience Toolkit is a distribution meant to create innovative websites that are usable, accessible and interoperable. It is led by the Government of Canada for free use by its departments, and even external web communities. 
  • Speaking of innovative websites, a responsive, clean and trendy website template is provided by BigVideo Installation profile. The X-factor in this distribution, however, is the ability to attach videos to the background of the site. 

Other important Distributions  

  • OpenChurch is a much thought about distribution that eases the working of churches and ministries by providing them a bunch of utility organisational and developmental tools online. Among the various features of OpenChurch are a blog page, bulletin board, events calendar, and a gallery for uploading pictures on the site. One can also easily integrate the rest of their social media with the website. 
  • farmOS is quite a popular distribution for record keeping and management of farm activities. The modules included in this distribution are efficient in managing all tangible objects in an agricultural farmland - like trees, animals, crops, etc. The functionality of farmOS can also be extended using additional modules
  • Crypto is a distribution for analysing live market market data of over 800 crypto currencies. It uses react.js to list top 4 currencies and coin listing, extracting data from a headless Drupal website. 
  • OpenFed is a distribution created by the Belgian Federal Public Service Policy and Support, as part of the Fast2Web offering. Major functionalities include advanced search, modules for customising layout and modules for enhancing security. 
  • Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart is used to build new Developer portals for Apigee, a platform for managing several APIs. 

All in all,distributions are a great way to simplify one’s work. They also make it much easier to stay up to date with the ongoing trends and developments all around the world.

Mar 22 2021
Mar 22

I was scrolling through my Instagram last night and I saw an advert that was pretty appealing to my taste. It was an ad for those flared jeans that are so popular today. And like any other fashion loving person, I clicked on it and it took me to the website of the brand. Cut to half an hour later, I was a proud owner of a very flared, wide bottom pair of denims with a super high waist line and I was pretty happy about it. 

This is a scenario which isn’t uncommon in the times we live in. If you ask me, I find this trend to be utterly appealing, utterly clever and utterly persuasive. 

I say this because if you think about it, I wouldn’t have ever landed on the product’s actual site, not by any chance. So, the seller’s plan to become a part of social media and sneak into people’s feed with such tantalising videos and pictures of the product, that they have no other option than buying is indeed a masterstroke, if there was one. 

And this is what marketing is all about. It does involve the more technical aspects of designing, production and packaging, however, making the product come in contact with the consumer is like the finale of the marketing film. And to ensure this contact is a memorable one, the marketers make it ubiquitous. Now that I have bought that one pair of jeans, I’m sure my Instagram and Facebook are going to be inundated with similar products and brands in the near future, because if I have bought it once, I might buy it again.

So today, we are going to be talking about an emerging vogue in the ever so evolving realms of marketing and that is Marketing Automation. Let’s get on with the marketing automation guide. 

When the Marketers met Automation

Marketing Automation is a concept that is all about making the work of the marketers a tad bit easy. The automated technology takes the load off of the marketer’s shoulders and onto its own.

At the heart of the concept of marketing automation is the consumer. Every nook and crevice of this concept recognises consumer as the boss. Let’s take a look. 

Understanding consumer behaviour; 
Identifying potential consumers; 
Creating consumers leads; 
Effectively nurturing the consumers leads; 
Personalising the marketing strategies for the consumers; 
And converting consumers into buyers.

These six points can sum up the entire working of marketing automation and consumers are everywhere. Yes, at the end of it, you, as a businessman would benefit from it, but you need consumers for that first. 

If I had to define marketing automation, I would say it is a concept that uses software and technology to ease all marketing tasks, especially the repetitive one. Those social media posts that have to be posted every Monday at 5 on the Twitter handle can be easily automated. The result would be better consumer engagement and increased efficiency, which means more revenue. 

Marketing automation is a pretty broad term that has numerous aspects and functions involved in marketing. 

Sending marketing messages using a trigger; 
Sending personalised emails to keep the consumer in the loop; 
And sending Facebook, Instagram and Twitter stories and posts for perpetual engagement; 

These are three of the most popular ways automated marketing strategies that help marketers generate leads from everywhere and convert them into sales. 

Now that we have covered the general concept of marketing automation, let’s look at some statistics that will give us a picture of its use in the business world. 

A chart depicts the percentage of organisations using marketing automation tools.Source: Regalix.com

The above picture shows the findings of a survey performed on a sample group. With close to a fourth of the surveyors answering an affirmative to using marketing automation, the concept seems to be a hit. 

The image is a combination of a pie chart and a bar graphs showing figures about the perception of marketing automation of businesses.Source: Dun & Bradstreet

Another survey shows the extent of marketing automation at work, with close to half of the surveyors using it extensively. 

A bar graph shoes the trends related to marketing automation in present with future predictions up to the year 2027.Source: Grand View Research 

Now, this one shows how marketing automation is going to progress in the future. Every sector, be it healthcare or education, is expected to enhance its size in marketing automation in the US. It would possibly double in comparison with 2016. So, if anything is going to boom in the future, it’s going to be marketing automation.

Marketing Automation and Its Achievements 

Marketing in general has numerous benefits that not a single person on this planet can deny. Likewise when marketing automation is concerned, the benefits still persist. There is a lot that can be overcome be it reducing costs, increasing efficiency or making you richer by the date and all of that starts with one lead generated by marketing automation. 

Let’s have a look at all the achievements of this marvelous concept. 

Automation saves time 

The main difference between doing something manually and automatically is the amount of time it takes to complete it. When you automate simple marketing tasks like figuring out the seriousness of a lead or sending emails, you free up a lot of your time. And that time can be used for more meaningful tasks like converting leads. 

Automation increases income 

A major benefit of automation in marketing is generating leads, which later helps in creating higher conversion rates and lower abandonment rates. What do you think would be the result of this? More sales, which simply means more income. 

There is also the perspective that marketing automation reduces costs because with automated processes, you would need less manpower and hence, lower costs. 

Automation eases scaling

Every business is meant to grow, so a marketing strategy that takes into consideration the present scenario along with every possibility that the future may hold should be the right choice. Marketing automation is that choice. This concept grows with you, regardless of the pace you have. Look at Tesla’s stock prices in 2020, that could happen to your business as well and marketing automation would be right there with you. 

Automation enhances user understanding 

Marketing automation is also responsible for making you understand your demographic better. This is achieved by tracking and monitoring every contact the user makes with your business and where they stand on the purchasing decision, you could say that marketing automation is essentially behavioural tracking of the consumers. The outcome of this level of user understanding is that you can make a few tweaks here and there based upon user patterns and thereby compel him to make a purchase.

Automation evaluates your successes concisely 

Marketing automation tools are a part of it and these tools have the capability of measuring all the right numbers for you. You’d be glad to know these numbers are not just pertinent to your consumers, but you as well. Assuming you automated an online campaign, once it is complete and even during it, marketing automation tools will have recorded its performance down to the T. This way you would know how you performed and what you need to work on.

Making Marketing Automation Work

Next comes the part, where we understand the workings of marketing automation. Yes, marketing automation is becoming increasingly popular. Yes, there are numerous benefits of this concept, but if you do not know where to start its implementation, then what is the point really? 

So, here are a few pointers that will give you an idea of how automation in marketing works, more like how you can make it work.

Do you know your needs? 

When thinking about marketing automation’s working, the first question to ask is what do you need it for. You can’t make it work, if you do not know what to work for. Is it lead generation or you simply want to ease the pressure of marketing by scheduling things and events instead of always worrying about the upcoming ones?

This concept can achieve so much, but only if you know what those achievements will look like. Create a workflow and start following it. 

Are you understanding your consumers?

Marketing automation helps you in understanding your consumers, but the more important thing is what you do with that understanding. Yes, you know what your target audience looks like, which geography you are targeting and what the psychology of the users is. But what then? When you have an answer to that, you’ll hit the automation homerun.

Are you using the right tools?

This concept is nothing without the right set of tools. Automation relies on technology and technology means tools and software that will make marketing a walk in the park. Drupal, a leading open source CMS, for instance, has numerous third party tools that allow its sites to capitalise the automation vogue. More on this in the next section. 

Are you building relationships or retaining them?

Marketing automation will target a whole new section of consumers. This would be a long and expensive process. So, just building new consumer relationships isn’t the right way of marketing automation. It would only be right when you focus on retaining the past consumers and cinching them to you with loyalty. How? That you have to think on.

Does the outcome seem too-automated? 

Marketing automation can seem a little too impersonal to the consumer. If it does, you are on the wrong track. To make the concept work, you must focus on personalising every consumer interaction. Make your brand something to remember. Reminding a consumer, who hasn’t been active based on your data, that their empty cart is missing them with a popup in their notification bar will compel them to have a look at your new catalogue. Hook, line and sinker, but with a personal touch.

After you have the clear cut answer to these five questions, it would be wise to know four more aspects that contribute to making marketing automation work for you. 

  • You must always remember to specify things and criteria you are working for along with the outcome you aim for. This is because all of this would need to be interpreted by the software at work and that would in turn be stored and executed to make you get what you wanted. 
  • You must leverage cookies, because it is these stored inside the visitor’s browser that let you know his behavioural patterns, track them and issue scores as well. 
  • You have to generate leads as a marketer, and forms with valid contact information of the customers is one of the best ways of doing that and further qualifying these leads.
  • Finally, you must have a plan that combines both inbound and outbound strategies. This helps marketers make out the difference between strong and feeble leads. 

One of the prime purposes of marketing automation is generating leads and these four points effectively achieve that. 

Making a Play at Marketing Automation with Drupal 

We have already discussed the priceless value of marketing automation in the business world, going without it is no longer an option. To that sense, Drupal has come out as a pretty valuable asset, having tools and modules that cater to each and every marketing automation need and then some. 

With the very appropriate motto of “Drive Your Strategy Forward,” Drupal indeed helps businesses in moving forward by attracting, engaging and delighting your consumers with personalised content and services. 

  • Be it real-time sales alerts; 
  • Be it managing your consumer data in bulk; 
  • Be it streamlining your workflows;
  • Be it tracking your site’s traffic down to the conversion rates; 
  • Or be it advanced email reporting; 

Drupal is equipped and ready to let you take advantage of the automated marketing strategies down to their very core.

Now, let’s focus on the specific tools that make the Drupal motto on marketing automation come alive. 

#1 Marketo MA

The Marketo Marketing Automation (MA) module helps your website by allowing it the ability to track like Marketo and capture lead data during user registration and form submission.

Mareketo’s Munchkin adds certain features to this module like tracking code to pages and capturing lead data using it’s JavaScript or API integrations. The lead capturing, being the highlighting feature, can be done during user creation, update and/or login; all you have to do specify the user actions. 

It can also very conveniently integrate itself with other marketing automation modules found on Drupal to give a better execution experience.

#2 Pardot Integration

A big part of marketing automation are the online marketing campaigns; they are essentially responsible for substantially increasing the revenue. 

Pardot Integration is a module that helps your marketing departments to not only manage these online campaigns, but also to create and deploy them. There are umpteen CRM tools that Pardot can integrate with to make the marketers tackle lead nurturing, scoring, and ROI reporting. 

Salesforce.com 
NetSuite 
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 
SugarCRM are a few of them. 

#3 HubSpot 

A renowned inbound marketing software famous for attracting, converting and closing customers has integrated itself with Drupal to form the HubSpot module, which comes with an embedded HubSpot JavaScript tacking code.

The HubSpot API and integration to Webforms which are directly submitted to HubSpot’s management system, makes this module work pretty smoothly, be it for tracking customers through signups or unleashing your existing email campaigns for the said customers. 

The fact that Webform 3.x is used makes building virtually any kind of form and embedding them anywhere possible.

#4 Poptin 

Poptin is a module that helps in creating popups, optins and forms in minutes. By showing these popups to your visitors at the right moment, you will be able to keep them engaged and minimise the chances of abandonment. The result is better sales and more revenue. 

All of the work that Poptin does is dependent on consumer behaviour, an insight to which will allow you to dole out the most irresistible popups for the consumers. You can customise the popups for your brand keeping in mind its aesthetic and vibe.

The inclusion of advanced triggering options like; 

  • Exit intent trigger; 
  • Display after time spent on website; 
  • Display after website X pages visited or X number of clicks; 
  • URL targeting; 
  • Device targeting; 
  • And traffic sources amongst others make this module more than appealing to the marketers.

#5 Mailchimp 

Mailchimp is an email delivery service. With emails being an important part of marketing automation, the Mailchimp module provides seamless integration with this particular service of the same name. 

The Mailchimp features include; 

  • directly connecting email entities to its lists; 
  • creating forms for easy signups; 
  • creating, sending and viewing campaigns and its statistics; 
  • being able to see to all the past activities on Mailchimp; 
  • and finally, triggering automated emails for defined events. 

#6 Salesforce Suite

Salesforce is a customer relationship management service platform with a side of marketing automation for customer service. Drupal’s Salesforce Suite allows to reap the full competency of the platform to propel the marketing strategy forward. 

Being a suite, this module has a range of Salesforce modules that integrate themself with the software and synchronise Drupal entities with Salesforce objects and push and pull data from each other. 

  • Salesforce Integration 
  • Salesforce Mapping 
  • Salesforce Mapping UI 
  • Salesforce Push 
  • Salesforce Pull are some of the modules in this vibrant suite.

#7 Webform 

Like the name says, the Webform module helps in creating form and surveys. These are forms that will tick all the right boxes for an enterprise grade form made using an enterprise grade form builder and the versatility of Drupal.

Once the forms are created and submitted, customisable e-mails become an option to be sent to admins or submitters or both and results are often exported to spreadsheets. Once that is done, the modules continue to work to provide a statistical review. You can also add other extensible features, if you like. These include encryption, antibot, the use of Captcha and MailSystem to name a few.

#8 CleverReach

The CleverReach module combines the efficiency of Drupal and CleverReach and makes marketing seem easy. With CleverReach’s email marketing software at work, you will be able to create, send, measure and manage your email campaigns. 

Together with the CleverReach API, this module can do a lot. Before that you would have to do two things. 

  • One is to import your CleverReach- Groups & Attributes or fields; 
  • Second would be to create a block for every group. 

These blocks would basically be newsletter subscription forms and the attributes would be the form fields. Once you have done that, subscriptions would automatically be sent to your CleverReach account. 

#9 Google Analytics

Google Analytics isn't unknown to anyone, least of all today’s marketers. Being an eminent marketing platform that allows marketers to measure everything from advertising ROI to site traffic and tracking social networking applications and sites. 
 
The Google Analytics module lets you integrate the platform’s web statistics tracking system to your Drupal site. 

  • Tracking single, multi or cross domains;
  • Tracking certain users, roles and pages and even excluding them; 
  • Tracking links and monitoring the types that are being tracked;
  • Monitoring the kind of files that are being downloaded; 
  • Tracking URL fragments that are changing; 

And so many other features that are incorporated into Google Analytics will be at your doorstep with this module.

#10 Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg is a popular website optimisation platform that specialises in heatmaps. With its integration with Drupal, all those heatmaps would become accessible for you in your marketing automation strategy. All you need is your Crazy Egg account details, enter them and you’ll be all set.

The Crazy Egg module comes with additional features on top of the heatmaps. These include; 

  • Knowing where your visitors scrolled through scrollmaps; 
  • Knowing exactly how you users interacted with your site through session recordings; 
  • And performing A/B tests to run two versions of your site simultaneously.

#11 Cloudwords for Multilingual 

Marketing isn’t confined by geography or language anymore. Global campaigns are being run everyday from anywhere in the world. This mandates that campaigns and marketing be accommodating to multilingualism because someone in Indonesia would never be able to relate to American Content. 

Cloudwords for Multilingual helps in this regard, being the fastest and most flexible way of making your website become localised. Cloudwords is built for marketers and by marketers, it is one of the most popular ways of running global sites. Its integration with Drupal makes both the software run to their maximum benefits and your campaign will definitely benefit from that.

#12 Mautic 

Mautic is an open source marketing automation service, which gives businesses the opportunity to integrate and personalise every digital property and channel they might have, so that the consumers receive a seamless experience every time. 

The Mautic module integrates itself with this platform, and the results are campaigns and content performing at a higher level to attain better leads and conversions. Choosing multiple authentication methods and selecting forms from a particular Mautic instance for display are two of its most used use cases.

Conclusion 

Marketing automation is gaining grounds by the day. An organisation that isn’t taking it up would somehow be lacking in its marketing game. Remember the end goal of any business is just one, to get to the desired revenue figure, no matter the path it may have to take. Marketing automation one path that makes that figure seem almost tangible. So, why not take it up. With Drupal marketing automation is a breeze, so again, why should we not flow with the wind?

Pages

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