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Jun 23 2021
Jun 23

For St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., the migration of a Drupal 6 website built in 2010, to a redesigned Drupal 8.9 site that's positioned to seamlessly migrate to Drupal 9, stands to drive the next phase of the institution's growth and global impact. 

Keys goals for the new site:

  • Intuitive, streamlined navigation,
  • A cleaner, simpler design and UX, 
  • Greater engagement among students, prospective students, alumni, and Orthodox communities, to drive both recruitment and fundraising, and 
  • Simplified content editing capabilities that provided content editors with greater flexibility for changing layouts and creating new pages. 

The redesign and Drupal migration achieved that and a lot more. A critical success factor proved to be the deployment of Provus, which combined layout builder and flexible design component features, provided content editors with the ability to easily rearrange layouts, create new sections, and make updates -- all with the assurance that high quality designs and branding consistency would not be broken with the mixing up and switching out of page components. Provus has also allowed for drag-and-drop, no-code content editing, enabling flexibility in building and revising sections, along with functionality such as accordion components that allowed for the presentation of great lengths of content in a compact, approachable format.

Read the full case study.

The new site is powerfully aligned with St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary's goals for fundraising, recruitment, connecting, and community building and that's a function of many factors that include navigation that’s closely aligned with the needs of specific persona groups, prominent calls to action to apply, donate, or subscribe, as well as an inviting design refresh.

Commenting on the potential of the new site and the institution's experience in working with Promet, Sarah Werner, Chief Marketing Officer, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, noted: 

The discovery and design phases were fantastic. The Promet team did an amazing job of bringing our new brand to life.

Interested in web design and development engagements that can ignite transformative digital experiences? That's what we do. Contact us today


 

Jun 23 2021
Jun 23

The Drupal community is one of the largest open web communities in the world. Moreover, the Drupal community has a diverse and inclusive culture across every department. Drupal is an Open source platform, and we welcome other open web technologies to collaborate. For example, inclusion of the JSON API into Drupal core and new Decoupled menu initiatives which use a JavaScript framework, we invited developers who would like to use Drupal as a back end while also providing user-editable menus.

Image

Photo source Twitter

In other words, the Drupal community is fantastic because of the significant contributions made from gem volunteers from around the globe. It includes everyone, irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, language, religion or any other background. They are willing to contribute back to the Drupal community with Code and other community contributions alike. And also the impact of Drupal on an individual's Life and changing stories. 

View Angie Byron's intervention

Angie Byron - Tales of Drupal Past: Origin Stories of Drupal Contributor

So, the Open Web and Community track, we encourage everyone from any open-source/open web technology to submit technical or non-technical sessions.

Contact: RakeshJames, rakesh.gectcr, Track Chair Lead Open Web & Community 

Jun 23 2021
Jun 23

As we kick off our outreach for the upcoming Fall 2021 session of Drupal Career Online, (our 10th year!) we can’t help but marvel, with a bit of pride, as we reflect on how cool it is that our small company has such a big-impact program for people who want to become part of our ever-impressive open source community. We’ve served stellar students, continue to have fantastic collaborations, and through it all, our Drupal Career Online program has grown, gotten better and attracted new Drupal talent to the community every one of the 10 years we’ve been presenting it. But this year, things look even brighter thanks to the insight of some Drupal Community shining stars!

We’ve always relied on our mission to provide a clear path forward for students, ensure we teach only best practices to give anyone who enrolls in Drupal Career Online a solid foundation for their career and to serve the Drupal Community. We’ve refined our application, extended the course, continuously update our curriculum and materials and built an active DrupalEasy learning community. We even earned and continually maintain an annual license as an Institution of Higher Education from the Florida Department of Education, Commission for Independent Education

But now, we are about to get exponentially better, and hopefully help make the Drupal Community better as well! This year–as a fitting crescendo to our 10 Year Anniversary–we are super excited and honored to have more than half of our seats for the Fall 2021 Session of Drupal Career Online reserved, and tuition underwritten, by insightful organizations in our community who are stepping up to diversify Drupal. The stars of this effort, Palantir.net, Bounteous and the Drupal Association through Discover Drupal, have partnered with us to help bring in, train up, and employ individuals to help bring about a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Drupal community.  

We are so proud to be working with amazing individuals and organizations on three insightful efforts that, by promoting diversity, will make the community better and enable more innovation and growth. The last time we were this excited about how our program could serve the Drupal Community was 10 years ago when it launched, and this is even more awesome in that it is all Drupal Community members who are making it happen.  We are star-struck; major support for new talent development guided by Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Yay!

Palantir.net is making available Palantir Fellowships that include tuition and stipends for two qualifying individuals during each session of Drupal Career Online.  Palantir is also providing need-based stipends, mentors, and internship/entry level positions to successful candidates with backgrounds and perspectives frequently underrepresented in the technology industry.  The Palantir Fellowship is designed to offer the support and resources to help up to four individuals per year become successful professionals who add to the culture of their organization and the Drupal community.  Palantir created their program as an ongoing, sustainable effort to provide comprehensive Drupal career preparation, meaningful support and hands-on experience.   

Bounteous is making available a Drupal Career Online Scholarship to an individual who is part of one of several historically underrepresented groups in tech so that they may become part of the Drupal talent pipeline and their team. Bounteous will provide the mentor for the awardee, as well as an internship and potential position on the Bounteous staff.  The program is part of invigorated efforts at Bounteous to focus its recruiting efforts on those that promote diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Finally, as part of the Drupal Association's Discover Drupal program, DrupalEasy is supporting their scholarship, training and work experience initiative as a training partner (along with Evolving Web, Drupalize.me and Mediacurrent) to bring nine aspiring Drupal developers with diverse backgrounds into the community.  We are excited to host three Discover Drupal participants who were recently selected in our upcoming session, and look forward to seeing more in the future. Discover Drupal is an ongoing, community supported effort that everyone can support through donation, mentoring, internships and employment of its graduates.  It’s a way anyone can be a part of helping to diversify Drupal through talent development! Be a Star

We view Drupal training and early work experience as the access people of all backgrounds need for a solid foundation and successful career in Drupal.  We are so proud to be a part of all of these initiatives that we hope mark the beginning of a sustainable, systemic approach to diversifying Drupal that will have astronomical results in supporting growth and development of much needed new talent into our community. 

Applications for the Palantir Fellowship and the Bounteous scholarship will open soon, and we will be providing detailed information and links to these programs on our Drupal Career Online information pages and application as well as at our three, no-cost Taste of Drupal information sessions in July and August.  Contact us if you have a question, and look for more information to follow!

The next session of Drupal Career Online starts August 30th. Join us for a Taste of Drupal to learn more.  Have questions or want to discuss these programs? Let us know!

 


 

 

Jun 23 2021
Jun 23

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Quicklink is an open-source JavaScript library created by Google that can dramatically speed up your site’s perceived page speed. It does this by detecting when hyperlinks enter the viewport and then instructs the browser to prefetch each link and store it in its cache. Then, when the user navigates to the linked page, the resulting page load will be nearly instantaneous. 

The Drupal Quicklink module integrates this library by exposing several configuration options while also making some sensible Drupal-specific defaults (such as not fetching links to admin pages, AJAX links, etc.). 

The Quicklink module’s first stable version was released in April 2019. Since then, the Google ChromeLabs team has released a new version of the library with several new features and bug fixes.

New features

Various hosting companies will sort you into a paid tier depending on how many page requests are made for the HTML document. In its default configuration, the Quicklink library can cause these requests to increase dramatically. Quicklink 2.0’s new features allow you to control better how links will be prefetched.

  • Request limit - this ensures that the page will only prefetch up to the configured amount of links. Added onto this is a delay, which sets the minimum amount of time that a link needs to be within the viewport before it can be fetched.  Both of these options will decrease the number of requests to the host.
  • Concurrency throttle - this limits the number of concurrent prefetches. This is useful if Quicklink is configured to prefetch pages for authenticated users because it can help ensure that the origin server isn’t overwhelmed with requests.
  • Idle timeout value - this sets the minimum amount of time that the browser needs to be idle before initiating prefetches. Increasing this from its default value can also decrease the number of requests that Quicklink initiates.

Additional features

The new version of the Quicklink module also includes a very useful feature to ignore configured selectors. This is effective if you want to prevent Quicklink from prefetching links within a certain block, view, or page.

Polyfill now disabled by default

The Quicklink module contains an option to load a third-party JavaScript polyfill so older browsers can support the Intersection Observer API. Without Intersection Observer, the 1.0 version of the Quicklink library would fail and potentially break other functionality within the bundled script. However, this is now resolved and coupled with the fact that all modern browsers support Intersection Observer,  we now disable the option for the polyfill on new installations.

Testing coverage

All of the new features (and most of the old features) are now covered by Nightwatch functional JavaScript tests. Warning: writing tests can be slightly addicting because of the warm fuzzy feeling that comes knowing that regressions will now be much more difficult to introduce.

You can view Quicklink’s tests here. In the example below, you can see that I’m ensuring that specific links are not ignored. Then I’m verifying that the configuration passed into the Quicklink library matches what comes from the module’s administrative UI.

Please note: the Quicklink module’s test coverage doesn’t actually verify that the links are prefetched but rather tests that the data passed into the API matches what was entered into the user interface. 

      // Verify that the following custom selectors are currently prefetched.'
      .assert.not.elementIgnored('drupal')
      .assert.not.elementIgnored('drupal')
      .assert.not.elementIgnored('drupal')
      .assert.not.elementIgnored('drupal')
      // Verify "Override Parent Selector" is default.
      .execute(
        function () {
          return drupalSettings.quicklink.quicklinkConfig.el === document;
        },
        [],
        (result) => {
          browser.assert.ok(result.value, 'Verify "Override Parent Selector" is default.');
        },
      )
      // Verify "Override allowed domains" is empty.
      .execute(
        function () {
          return drupalSettings.quicklink.quicklinkConfig.origins === false;
        },
        [],
        (result) => {
          browser.assert.ok(result.value, 'Verify "Override allowed domains" is empty.');
        },
      )

Beta release and roadmap

Quicklink 2.0.0-beta1 is available right now and is being used here on Lullabot.com.

The next step in the roadmap is to update the Quicklink documentation and make sure that users don’t report any regressions. Once that is complete, a stable version will be released for Drupal 8 and 9. Also coming soon is a 7.x-2.0 release for the Drupal 7 version of the module.

Try Quicklink now!

The Quicklink module has very logical defaults, and for most websites, it can be installed and used without any additional configuration. For more information on Quicklink, see our Introducing the Quicklink Module for Drupal article, as well as Quicklink’s documentation on Drupal.org.

Jun 23 2021
Jun 23

The digital agency sector is wide and diverse, spanning many different disciplines and services, but all share a common goal - to deliver transformational digital projects through innovation and best practice. The Agency & Business track is a staple of the DrupalCon program where agency owners and teams can share ideas, learn new skills and collaborate to advance standards in leadership, project management, quality assurance, sales and marketing and digital services.

Photo by Michael Cannon

 

Shared learning and actionable insight

Digital agencies are, with few exceptions, businesses that operate in a competitive market and compete for clients and projects. Coming together at DrupalCon is a unique opportunity for agencies to put community before competition in order to advance standards, develop skills and drive innovation.

The DrupalCon Agency & Business track has become famous for:

  • Agency owners sharing the latest thinking on leadership and building a winning culture within the agency business model.
  • Project management professionals illustrating critical skills and lessons in agile delivery through real world examples, not just when things have gone well, but when things go wrong too!
  • Agency teams demonstrating how to advance quality assurance and open standards
  • Sales & marketing experts showcasing how to create a point of difference in digital services and craft marketing messages that resonate.

Inspiring Stories

One of the most notable aspects of the Agency & Business track is insight from the teams behind some of the most successful digital agencies. Bringing together experts and senior executives from the agency world, DrupalCon is as famous for inspirational stories and ‘non technical’ insights as it is for code and programming skills.

Examples of previous Agency & Business Track sessions include:

  • Agency Leadership
    • Successfully Managing Distributed Teams
    • The Ten Ways of Trust
    • Drupal Agency Partnerships: Stronger, Together
  • Project Management
    • My first Drupal Project as Junior PM
    • "Flattening the Curve" with Lean Software Delivery
    • Happier teams & clients with better PM – how we improved our PM process to make our lives easier
  • Quality Assurance
    • Automated advanced visual regression testing
    • Understanding Automated Tests in Drupal
    • Utilizing the QA Engineers Throughout the Whole Project Lifecycle
  • Sales & Marketing
    • What is between agencies and freelancing?
    • Value Mapping: Communicating the Benefits of What You Do.
    • Creating more value with Drupal by offering it as a DXP

The Agency & Business track covers a wide spectrum of topics and issues so we are keen to hear from anyone working for or with a digital agency.

Lead by Example

If you want to share your insight and showcase your leadership within the agency world, we want to hear from you. We are calling on digital agency teams to submit their session proposals by the 28th June 2021. Are you a:

  • Digital agency owner or leader
  • Project management professional and team
  • Quality assurance expert
  • Sales & marketing specialist

If so, help us to make the Drupal community the most innovative and dynamic environment for digital agencies and submit your session today.

Submit your sessions now and help make DrupalCon Europe 2021 the best yet!

Contact: Will Huggins, zoocha-will, Track Chair Lead Agency & Business

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

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

Drupal Views Series

Table of Contents

Getting Started

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

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

How to Create a View

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

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

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

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

Views Creation Screen – Figure 1

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

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

Views Config Screen – Figure 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Customizing your View

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

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

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

Click on “Add” in the Field section:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Create Block using Views

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Create Admin Page using Views

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Save your View!

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

Summary

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

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

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Jun 22 2021
Jun 22

Many interesting things happened in 2001:

  • The Vatican claimed that Pokemon was safe for children
  • Pizza Hut paid $1 million to deliver a pizza to the International Space Station
  • A SuperBowl ad cost you $2.1 million  
  • iTunes was first launched

2001 is also the year that DesignHammer opened its doors — even as the technology world was dramatically shifting and the ‘dot-com bubble’ was bursting.  

“It’s not like we didn’t know what we were getting into since our prior company had been a victim of the dot-bust, but we had no idea how hard or easy it would be to try it on our own. We were fortunate in the early days to have a number of friends and clients from past business relationships join us at DesignHammer as we were learning how to run a 3-person web design and development shop.” — Managing Partner David Minton

February 2001 was probably not the best time to start a new technology venture, but co-founders David MintonRobert Weeks, and Frank Yonnetti had a plan and started by landing the internationally renowned Durham Bulls Baseball Club as their first client. Over the next five years, the three partners picked up additional high-profile clients, including RTI International, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology. The workload was becoming more than the three partners could handle, so it was time to search for a larger office space in Durham, and hire some staff. (Read more about our journey here).

Twenty years later, even in the midst of a pandemic, a SuperBowl commercial costs you a cool 5.6 million. The International Space Station is almost at the point of overcrowding, making that $1 million pizza that much more valuable. 20 years after launching iTunes as a concept, it is a stalwart among popular download and streaming services with over a billion downloads worldwide. 

DesignHammer has now grown into a full-service web agency, serving more than 200 clients and completing over 550 projects. We have done so with a talented and close-knit team of digital experts who use a collaborative development process to deliver specialized services ranging from Web StrategyDevelopment, and Design, to SEO and digital marketing Consulting. Our diverse set of clients come from a range of industries, including government, higher education, non-profit, IT, and healthcare. DesignHammer aims to provide client organizations with the best return on investment (ROI) by leveraging existing software platforms, custom software frameworks, and third-party software integrations. DesignHammer is active in the free and open source software (FOSS) community and recognized for our commitment to developing and expanding upon PHP platforms like Drupal and WordPress, while developing on most other ‘stacks’ like Scala, Python, Django, Vue, Angular, Electron, Laravel, Typescript, and more. 

The Triangle Business Journal has listed DesignHammer as a Top Graphic Design Firm and Top Internet Marketing & Design Firm in the Triangle for the last 19 years. We were also recently named a Top-Performing B2B Company in North Carolina by Clutch, a leading national ratings and reviews platform for IT, marketing, and business service providers. Our exemplary, flexible, and employee-first workplace practices ensure a healthy working environment for our team and we have been recognized as a “When Work Works” award winner since 2012.

We are excited to see what the next 20 years will hold as the company continues to expand, explore new technologies, add new partners and clients, and continue to refine our processes. Thank you to all of our current and past clients for being a part of our journey and growing with us. We are looking forward to the next decade of building smarter websites. If you have an upcoming web project, get in touch to learn more about how DesignHammer can contribute to your success.

DesignHammer 20th Anniversary Zoom

Jun 22 2021
Jun 22

The code to programmatically copy field data in Drupal 8 is pretty simple, but I wasn’t able to find any great examples for performing the operation at scale when I ran into the need myself. Hopefully the code sample below helps somebody save a few minutes of digging for solutions.

My use case was straightforward: After more than a year of continual development on a client site, new patterns emerged in how content editors utilized certain entity reference fields. It became apparent that similar relationships across different content types used separate fields with different machine names. This made it tricky to aggregate and filter content. It also led to overly complex implementations of any custom functionality based on these relationships. One thing was clear: we needed the fields to be consistent across content types.

Basically, I needed entity references stored in various older fields, let’s say field_old_one and field_old_two, to be copied into a single destination field we’ll call field_new.

Once I’d added our field_new field to all the appropriate content types via the field UI, I needed to migrate the references out of the old fields, and into the new fields. What’s the best way to do this when manual GUI changes would take too long? A hook_post_update_NAME implementation was my answer.

The code to programmatically copy field data in Drupal 8 isn’t the hard part. Assuming your source and destination field types are compatible, it’s just two quick lines:

/* @var $node \Drupal\node\NodeInterface $node */
$node->$dest_field = $node->$source_field;
$node->save();

It gets complicated when you need to do this on hundreds or thousands of entities. We don’t want to load, process, and save all those entities at once as that would likely bring our server down. We need to batch the operation. Implementations of hook_post_update_NAME act as implementations of callback_batch_operation — allowing us to execute a custom callback _my_module_copy_field_values across multiple HTTP requests and avoid PHP timeouts. First, we define that callback.

/**
  * Copies the value from one field to another empty field.
  *
  * @param array $sandbox
  * The batch operation sandbox.
  * @param string $bundle
  * The node bundle.
  * @param string $source_field
  * The source field name.
  * @param string $dest_field
  * The destination field.
  * @param int $nodes_per_batch
  * The amount of nodes to update at a given time.
  */
function _my_module_copy_field_values(array &$sandbox, $bundle, $source_field, $dest_field, $nodes_per_batch = 20) {
  $storage = \Drupal::entityTypeManager()->getStorage('node');
  // Initialize some variables during the first pass through.
  if (!isset($sandbox['total'])) {
    $query = $storage->getQuery()
      ->condition('type', $bundle)
      ->notExists($dest_field)
      ->exists($source_field)
      ->accessCheck(FALSE);
 
    $nids = $query->execute();
 
    $sandbox['total'] = count($nids);
    $sandbox['ids'] = array_chunk($nids, $nodes_per_batch);
    $sandbox['current'] = 0;
  }
 
  if ($sandbox['total'] == 0) {
    $sandbox['#finished'] = 1;
    return;
  }
 
  $nids = array_shift($sandbox['ids']);
  $nodes = $storage->loadMultiple($nids);
 
  /* @var $node \Drupal\node\NodeInterface $node */
  foreach ($nodes as $node) {
    $node->$dest_field = $node->$source_field; // Programmatically copy field data
    $node->save();
    $sandbox['current']++;
  }
 
  $sandbox['#finished'] = min(($sandbox['current'] / $sandbox['total']), 1);
}

In this case, the $sandbox variable is passed by reference to each iteration of the post_update hook. It will loop over this function until $sandbox['#finished'] == 1 — or until the current node operation is equal to the total number of nodes.

In my case, I needed to run this operation on a few different fields across half a dozen content types each with their own mappings — I’ll just use article and post in my example below. To make it a little easier, I wrote the custom callback _my_module_copy_field_values to apply updates on a per content type and field basis. Then I called it from a few implementations of hook_post_update_NAME, one for each content type.

With your custom callback _my_module_copy_field_values defined, you simply call it in your hook_post_update_NAME implementations defined in your MY_MODULE.post_update.php file. Then when you run database updates, your work is done.

/**
 * Migrate Article field_old_one > field_new.
 */
function my_module_post_update_8001_migrate_article_field(&$sandbox) {
  _my_module_copy_field_values($sandbox, 'article', 'field_old_one', 'field_new');
}
/**
 * Migrate Post field_old_two > field_new.
 */
function my_module_post_update_8002_migrate_post_field(&$sandbox) {
  _my_module_copy_field_values($sandbox, 'post', 'field_old_two', 'field_new');
}

Executing your field level changes in hook_post_update_NAME versus hook_update ensures that any schema level changes (which should be in hook_update) are completed before your content level changes — just in case you’ve got some other updates going on or are working with a handful of other developers in the same codebase.

Do you have a simpler way to do this? Feel free to share in the comments.

Jun 22 2021
Jun 22

Lynette has been part of the Drupal community since Drupalcon Brussels in 2006. She comes from a technical support background, from front-line to developer liaison, giving her a strong understanding of the user experience. She took the next step by writing the majority of Drupal's Building Blocks, focused on some of the most popular Drupal modules at the time. From there, she moved on to working as a professional technical writer, spending seven years at Acquia, working with nearly every product offering. As a writer, her mantra is "Make your documentation so good your users never need to call you."

Lynette lives in San Jose, California where she is a knitter, occasionally a brewer, a newly-minted 3D printing enthusiast, and has too many other hobbies. She also homeschools her two children, and has three house cats, two porch cats, and two rabbits.

Jun 22 2021
Jun 22

https://www.drupal.org/project/xmlsitemap

Warning: We’ve had some trouble getting the XML Sitemap module to work on some websites. In those cases, we’ve used the Simple XML Sitemap module which works great but lacks some of the robustness: https://www.drupal.org/project/simple_sitemap.

Credits & Thanks

Thank you to:

About the XML Sitemap module

The XML Sitemap module creates an XML sitemap of your content that you can submit to the search engines. An XML sitemap is a specially-formatted summary of each piece of content on your website. You can read more at https://www.sitemaps.org/.

Tip: If you’re running an eCommerce website, this module is of particular importance. We’ve seen catalogs with extensive product listings increase traffic by thousands of visitors per day with a proper XML sitemap.

drupal xml sitemap admin page screenshot

Having an XML sitemap helps your SEO by giving Google a list of the pages that you want them to crawl. While Google can crawl your site without an XML sitemap, bigger and more complex sites confuse the crawler so it could potentially miss pages and even whole sections. If you don’t do this, you will have to manually submit every single page of your site to Google which is ridiculously time-consuming.
 

Install and Enable the XML Sitemap Module

  1. Install the XML Sitemap module on your server. (See this section for more instructions on installing modules.)

    drupal xml sitemap module installation
     

  2. Go to the Extend page: Click Manage > Extend (Coffee: “extend”) or visit https://yourDrupalSite.dev/admin/modules.
     
  3. Select the checkbox next to XML sitemap, XML sitemap custom, and XML sitemap engines and click the Install button at the bottom of the page.
     

Permissions

If necessary, give yourself permissions to use the XML Sitemap module.

  1. Click Manage > People > Permissions (Coffee: “perm”) or visit https://yourDrupalSite.dev/admin/people/permissions.

    drupal xml sitemap module permissions screenshot
     

  2. Select the appropriate checkbox for “Administer XML sitemap settings”.
     
  3. OPTIONAL: If you wish for your XML sitemap to include user information, select the appropriate checkbox for “User > View user information”, otherwise go on to the next step.

    drupal xml sitemap view user info screenshot
     

  4. Click the Save permissions button at the bottom of the page.
     

Configure the XML Sitemap module

  1. Click Manage > Configuration > Search and metadata > XML Sitemap, (Coffee: “xml”) then click the Sitemap Entities tab or visit https://yourdrupalsite.com/admin/config/search/smlsitemap/entities/settings

    drupal custom entities settings screenshot
     

  2. Select the checkbox next to each entity you want to show up in Google. You will likely select your Content Types and Taxonomies but you may or may not want to select Comments, User, or other items. If in doubt, include them, as they’re often good content for SEO purposes.
     
  3. Click the Save configuration button at the bottom of the page. After saving, stay on the Sitemap Entities tab and complete in the Configuring Individual Content Type Sitemap Settings section below.
     

Configuring Individual Content Type Sitemap Settings

For each content type you selected on the Sitemap Entities tab, you’ll want to enable their inclusion in the XML Sitemap and weight the content. While not difficult, you’ll want to weight your content differently based upon the type of content.

  1. Click the Configure button next to the first content type. This will display the XML sitemap settings page for that content type.

    drupal article xml sitemap settings screenshot
     

  2. From the Inclusion drop down list, select “Included”. A new set of fields will display.

    drupal article xml sitemap settings screenshot 2
     

  3. Set the Default Priority and Default change frequency drop down lists to the settings specified in the table below for each standard content type.

    Table: Standard Content Type XML Sitemap Settings
     

    Content Type Default priority Default change frequency Article 0.8 always Blog 0.5 always Basic page (if used) 0.8 always Tags (all taxonomy terms) 0.5 always All other content 0.5 always
     
  4. Click the Save Configuration button at the bottom of the page.
     
  5. Once you are finished each content type configuration, go to the Settings tab. Here you will see the different content types divided into tabs.

    Note: Frontpage is automatically set to a Priority of 1.0 (highest) - you’ll want to leave this as it is.

    drupal xml sitemap weightings
     

  6. Make sure that the Minimum sitemap lifetime is set to “No minimum”.
     
  7. Make sure that the check box next to Include a stylesheet in the sitemaps for humans is selected.
     
  8. Click the Save configuration button at the bottom to save your changes.
     

Building Your XML Sitemap for the First Time

  1. Select the Rebuild tab or go to https://yourDrupalsite.com/admin/config/search/xmlsitemap/rebuild.

    drupal xml sitemap rebuilt screenshot
     

  2. Within the Select which link types you would like to rebuild block, select all items.
     
  3. Make sure the checkbox next to Save and restore any custom inclusions and priority links is selected.
     
  4. Click the Save configuration button. This will generate your sitemap for the first time. Go to https://www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml to see it.

The XML sitemap is automatically updated when Cron runs. That makes it unnecessary to rebuild your sitemap again unless you run into problems.

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Jun 22 2021
Jun 22

Like many other things in life, our code needs some discipline too. I’m pretty sure no developer in the world wants to write unclean code. However, unclean code still does exist. It can arise due to various reasons - may be due to business pressure, lack of documentation, lack of interaction among team members or incompetence of the developer. Due action needs to be taken to make the code cleaner and to avoid problems that may come up in the future because of this. Fortunately, we can tackle these issues with a disciplined technique to restructure the code called as Refactoring.

Refactoring is a technique to improve the internal structure of the existing program source code and maintaining its external behavior. It is a step-by-step procedure to improve the code, which will otherwise cost us a lot of time and effort.

Code Refactoring

Disadvantages of Unclean Code

Expanding the source code size by adding new programs to it without refactoring for a long time makes the code messy and unclean. It makes the maintenance and further development on the project very difficult. Unclean code comes with tons of disadvantages:

  1. It increases the maintenance cost of the project.
  2. Adding new feature takes a lot of time and sometimes it become impossible to add.
  3. It slows down the introduction of new people to the project.
  4. It contains duplicate code.
  5. It does not pass all tests.

There are many other disadvantages, but these problems cost a lot of money and time to the organization.

Advantages of Clean Code

Clean and disciplined code has its own advantages:

  1. It does not contain duplicate code.
  2. It passes all tests.
  3. Makes the code more readable and easier to comprehend.
  4. It makes the code easier to maintain and less expensive.

Advantages of clean code are many. The process of turning a messy unclean code into a more maintainable clean code is called Refactoring process.

Refactoring Process

Refactoring should be done as a series of small changes, each of which slightly improves the existing code and allows the program to continue to run without breaking it. After refactoring, code should become cleaner than before. If it remains unclean, then there is no point of refactoring. It is just a loss of time and effort. No new code should be added during refactoring to create new functionality. It should pass all the tests after refactoring.

When to Refactor

Refactoring should be performed when:

  • Adding duplicate code to the project. Because duplicate code is hard to maintain and changes in one place may require updates in many other places.
  • Adding a feature. Refactoring makes it easier to add new functionality.
  • When fixing a bug, you should refactor because it will make the bug discovered automatically.
  • Code review is the last stage of refactoring the code before changes are deployed to production.

Dealing with Code Smells

Problems on the code are sometimes referred to as code smells. These are the problems addressed during the refactoring. They are easier to find and fix.

For example:

  • Large methods and classes which are very hard to work with.
  • Incomplete or incorrect usage of object-oriented programming concept.
  • Code that makes it hard to add any changes.
  • Duplicate and deprecated code in the project.
  • Highly coupled code.

Refactoring Techniques

Refactoring techniques are the steps taken to refactor the code. Some of the refactoring techniques are:

1. The Extract Method

// Problem

function printInvoice() {
    $this->printHeader();
  
    // Print details.
    print("name:  " . $this->name);
    print("amount " . $this->getPrice());
}

// Solution

function printInvoice() {
    $this->printBanner();
    $this->printDetails($this->getPrice());
}
  
function printDetails($price) {
    print("name:  " . $this->name);
    print("amount " . $outstanding);
}

If you have a code fragment that can be grouped, add a new method for that part of code and replace the old code. It makes the code more isolated and removes duplication.

2. Extract Variable

// Problem

if (($student->getMarksinMath() > 60) &&
    ($student->getMarksInPhysics() > 60) &&
    ($student->getMarksinChemistry() > 60) && $this->pass)
{
  // do something
}

// Solution

$mathResult = $student->getMarksinMath() > 60;
$physicsResult = $student->getMarksinPhysics() > 60;
$chemistryResult = $student->getMarksinChemistry() > 60;
$hasPassed = $this->pass;

if ($mathResult && $physicsResult && $chemistryResult && $hasPassed) {
  // do something
}

For large expressions like the one displayed in the problem, which is very hard to understand, different variables can be created for each expression. It makes the code more readable. But this method should be applied with caution. However, it has its own disadvantages. The code will execute even if the condition is false which is not the case in the problem.

3. The Inline Method

// Problem

function printResult() {
    return ($this->getResult()) ? “Pass” : “Fail”;
}
function getResult() {
    return $this->totalMarks > 300;
}

// Solution

function getRating() {
    return ($this->totalMarks > 300) ? “Pass” : “Fail”;
}

When the method body is more obvious, use this technique. Replace the method with method content and delete the method. It minimizes the number of unwanted methods.

4. Inline Temp

// Problem

$mathMark = $student->getMathResult();
return $mathMark > 60;

// Solution

return $student->getMathResult() > 60;

If there is an unwanted temporary variable which just holds the expression result, remove the variable with the expression itself. It helps in getting rid of unnecessary variables.

5. Replace array with object

// Problem

$row = [];
$row[0] = "Virat Kohli";
$row[1] = 70;

// Solution

$row = new Player();
$row->setName("Virat Kohli");
$row->setNumberofCentury(70);

If there is an array with various types of data, replace that with an object. Because fields of a class are easier to document and maintain than arrays with various types of data.

6. Parameterized Method

// Problem

function fivePercentRaise() {
}

function tenPercentRaise() {   
}

// Solution

function raise(percent) {
}

If multiple methods perform similar action on data, then replace all the methods with one method and pass the data as argument(s). It removes duplicate and redundant methods.

7. Separate query from modifier

// Problem

function getInterest() {
    $this->interestAmount = $this->principal * 10 / 100;

    return $this->interestAmount;
}

// Solution

function setInterest() {
    $this->interestAmount = $this->principal * 10 / 100;
}

function getInterest() {
    return $this->interestAmount;
}

If a method is returning value and changing the object, split the two methods. One for modification and another to return the result. It removes the chance of unintentional modification of an object.

Jun 21 2021
Jun 21

Share your case studies at the DrupalCon Europe 2021 Client & Industry track

Day 2, Keynote - Monique J. Morrow - DrupalCon Vienna 2017. Photo by Dominik Kiss

Using open source software in a large company requires a cultural shift. An organization needs to encourage knowledge sharing and contributions within the different teams in an organization and also with the greater open source community. New ways of working and collaboration need to be established to take full advantage of adopting open source for an enterprise. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought bizarre challenges and opportunities for enterprises to embrace digital transformation at a much faster pace. It has compelled enterprises to create new possibilities for their businesses through innovative services and products, improved ways of working, and agile business models.

However, there are only a few platforms that support faster digital transformation. Due to this, there are enterprises & SMBs that struggle to leverage the full potential of digital and hence, fail to reach their target audiences at the right time.

And that’s where Drupal, the power of open-source, comes into the picture!

Drupal has become a top enterprise-class CMS for its reliability, interoperability, scalability, security and ease of customizations and integrations. Organizations globally are incorporating open source methodologies into the way they develop their own software. Companies such as Pfizer, Nestlé, Nokia, NASA, Habitat for Humanity, and DHL are already using Drupal to deliver content across all their channels.

Another advantage of open source is the people behind the software, in the case of Drupal a community of more than 1.3 million members. Within this community we can connect and share best practices and lessons learned for managing large complex projects and pushing innovative boundaries using Drupal. With a whole community innovating, we often get new features before we know we need them.

No matter which path is taken, everyone can learn from each other. And that's what DrupalCon Europe 2021  is all about. In the Client & Industry track we want to discuss how  digital transformation can be a success for your company – and what role Drupal plays in this. We are looking forward to your questions and your ideas in order to become better together.

DrupalCon Europe 2021 on 4 October through 7 October will cover a broad range of case studies and experiences by representatives of the organisations specialized in choosing for the open web. And it’s not only techs speaking, but also people using Drupal strategically like CMO’s, CTO’s, digital managers, agencies, and business/site owners. The key goal is to show how Drupal can adapt to fit projects of all shapes and sizes, across all industries.

The sessions are targeted to digital managers and executive decision makers using Drupal or considering the solution as their next content and digital experience management platform. Agency leaders, product owners, and tech leads can also benefit from the showcases in this track.

The showcases will add more business value if told by project owners from the companies themselves, or with the agencies alongside their clients. By sharing your journey using Drupal in your digital transformation, you will help existing and potential Drupal users (clients) learn innovative ways to improve Drupal, from Drupal users themselves.

pdjohson -

Community Summit at DrupalCon Vienna 2016. Photo by pdjohnson

The Client & Industry track typically covers the following topics:

  • General Open Web: Explore how we can continue to advocate for our ability to access and publish on the open web and allow engaging and meaningful digital experiences.
  • Drupal Digital Experiences: Share innovative customizations or how you use Drupal in conjunction with other solutions.
  • Digital Transformation: Show us how you achieved agility, standardization, masterization, or implementation of new governance processes for Drupal projects that promote digital transformation and innovation within an organization.
  • Media & Publishing: Drupal is built with out-of-the-box tools & features essential for creating & publishing SEO-friendly content in multiple languages across devices for delivering incredible user experiences. Showcase how the unique capabilities/features of Drupal make it a one-stop solution for all Media & Publishing enterprises.
  • Ecommerce: Tell us how Drupal serves as the foundation and stepping stone for building an integrated Commerce, Marketing, CRM, and ERP platform and delivering integrability, flexibility, and scalability at a reasonable cost.
  • Government: Showcase reuse, cost savings, productivity efficiencies, and innovative customizations in governmental structures.
  • Education & Non-Profit Organizations: Show how Drupal has been extended to support multifaceted institutions and empower disparate editorial teams.
  • Community Platforms: Share with us how Drupal is used to build engaging and intuitive community platforms.

We have listed some presentation topics above, but are open to new themes. What has been your experience with implementing Drupal in your organization in the last few years? What types of governance processes have been put in place? What have been your successes and challenges?

We’d love to hear about it! Send us your case study for the Client & Industry track and share it with the Drupal community. 

Not sure if your topic is right here? Don’t be afraid to choose the wrong track as all track chairs are in close contact and will consider moving your session to the best place.

Target Audience

The sessions target digital managers and executive decision-makers who use Drupal or are considering using it as their next digital experience management platform. Agency leaders, product owners, and tech leads can also take advantage of the sessions & workshops on this track.

Why Participate?

Because you will be able to:

  • Tell Your Story

DrupalCon offers everyone a platform to showcase the best of their work. If you have worked with the team that developed the web application or an accelerator program to facilitate enterprises in delivering engaging experiences, you ought to share that with us!

We will be ecstatic to know how you fostered innovation using Drupal for building community platforms, improving editorial experiences, creating eCommerce platforms, and ultimately, delivering meaningful customer experiences.

We want to hear all of this from you at DrupalCon. Tell your story by submitting a session to the Clients & Industry Track. 

  • Give Back to the Community

DrupalCon is an event for anyone & everyone who wants to learn Drupal to make a difference in others’ lives. It doesn’t matter whether you are a developer, designer, editor, or an end-user even, you can get started right away. Simply put your ideas to work at contribution events & enjoy learning & being a part of one of the largest open-source communities in the world.

 

Submit your sessions now and help create the best program for DrupalCon Europe 2021!

We are looking forward to your submissions! Please don’t hesitate in submitting your sessions. Be an inspiration for all Drupal enthusiasts out there

Contact: Antonella Severo, Antonellasevero, Track Chair Lead, Clients & Industry

Jun 21 2021
Jun 21

What does Makers & Builders mean?

The “Makers & Builders” track is the combination of DevOps, backend development, site building, frontend development, and accessibility competencies. All the right ingredients for a perfect Drupal recipe.

This is an expert only thing, isn’t it?

No! When we build the program, we take into account each type of individual. Whether you are a first-timer (welcome!) discovering Drupal, someone building or maintaining small/medium sites or an “hardcore” developer with dozens of sitesbuilt on your resume or high traffic websites, we have a session for you!

There is obviously content for backend developers, frontend developers, sysadmins or accessibility experts, but also for what we call site builders (They are people carefully picking and assembling modules that fulfill your sites features).

What will I learn in this track?

Spoiler alert, something new! Here is a broad list of topics covered in the track description:

  • Accessibility,
  • APIs & Third party systems,
  • Back End Development (Symfony, GraphQL…),
  • Contribution best practices,
  • Development (PHP, Javascript…) state of the art,
  • DevOps (DDEV, Docker, Kubernetes...),
  • Front End Development (React, Vues.js, Angular…),
  • Performance,
  • Q&A and Automated Testing,
  • Scalability,
  • Security,
  • Modules feedbacks (content layout, multilingual, media management…),
  • And the list could go on!

           

That’s a lot to explore, right? It’s the beauty of it. Our sessions are recorded so don’t worry, if you face a session dilemma, you will have a way to catch up the ones you won’t be able to attend.

Enjoy the great DrupalCon experience!

Contact: Julien Dubois, artusamak, Track Chair Lead Makers & Builders 

Jun 21 2021
Jun 21

How could we help companies improve their sales funnel and project proposals? Would more case studies help? Would promoted case studies help?

What additional support and training could be provided to help organizations learn and use the Webform module? Would an organization want to sponsor monthly Webform training videos? Would sponsoring and organizing a monthly Webform lunch-n-learn be of interest to anyone?

Are there any additional services that could be offered around the Webform module? Would recommending or troubleshooting Webform add-on modules help organizations succeed?

One thing that I struggle with is determining what is the right level of transparency needed to make the Webform module’s Open Collective sustainable? For example, I am separately engaging with organizations to do project planning as a consultant and these engagements rightfully need to remain private and confidential.

A related question is, should I directly be engaging, possibly cold calling, or directly emailing organizations and companies trying to get them to sponsor the Webform module's Open Collective? I am hesitant to do this, but asking someone directly for help can make a huge difference.

Jun 21 2021
Jun 21

Watch Part 3 of our CiviCRM Entity training series.

[embedded content]

CiviCRM Entity is a Drupal module that provides enhanced integration with Drupal, allowing developers, site builders, and content creators to utilize powerful Drupal modules including Views, Layout Builder, Media, and Rules. Drupal fields can be added to CiviCRM entity types. It provides Drupal pages and edit forms for all CiviCRM data such as contacts, allowing usage of familiar Drupal content creation tools and workflows.

During this training we cover:

  • CiviCRM Entity Leaflet Address module
  • Views Proximity Filter
  • Map markers and Marker Clustering
  • Drupal Calendar Views for Activities

Valuable Tools for Better Site Building

  • Entity Browser Module: Provides extremely configurable selection, entity creation, edit form display field widget for referencing/creating entities with entity reference fields
  • Bootstrap Layout Builder: Enhances Drupal Core's layout builder module, including boostrap column layouts, integration with Bootstrap Styles so that site builders can control typography, borders, padding, margin, background color, background video, and much more
  • Bootstrap Styles Module: Provides configurable styles to be used with Bootstrap Layout Builder
  • Bootstrap Library Module: Provides any version of Bootstrap css/js framework for themes that are not bootstrap based
  • Layout Builder Restrictions Module: Allows site builders to limit what blocks are available to add to layouts
  • Inline Entity Form Module: Another module entity creation, edit form display field widget for referencing/creating entities with entity reference fields. Can be used in conjunction with Entity Browser
  • Drupal Console: A command line tool to generate boilerplate code for many Drupal features, including Field formatters and Field widgets
  • Field Group Module: Enables grouping fields into fieldsets, collapsible "Details" element, vertical and horizonal tabs
  • Chaos Tools Module: Chaos Tools: Many "goodies" that haven't been included into Drupal Core. In our demo it allows us to place entity view mode renderings, that use field groups

Additional Resources:

Jun 21 2021
Jun 21

Due to globalization and local talent shortages, outsourcing parts of their digital initiatives has become an essential business tactic for many companies. There are various ways and degrees of outsourcing, but the bottom line is that it’s a different kind of project work, with its own unique advantages and drawbacks.

In times of disruption and uncertainty, e.g. ever since the start of the Covid pandemic, however, the benefits of outsourcing become much more pronounced than its drawbacks. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into why outsourcing is a particularly great fit for such periods of time and how businesses that decide to outsource can benefit from it.

Why outsource in times of uncertainty?

Many of the benefits of outsourcing are the same both in normal times and during periods of great uncertainty. The key difference is that, with the latter, these are exactly the features that companies are looking for, and the disadvantageous ones are often already characteristic of the disruption in question (e.g. right now issues with remote collaboration).

Here are 6 factors that make outsourcing strategies particularly well positioned for realizing companies’ digital strategies in times of disruption and uncertainty.

1. Flexibility

At a time of huge business transformations, the ability to be flexible represents a unique competitive advantage. Rather than having to lay off employees if market trends and demands shift, you can instead partner with experts for specific projects and needs, without any organizational overhead beyond that project or need.

Outsourcing allows for exactly that flexibility, whether you’re looking for help in design, marketing, development, or even more specific fields. Especially when partnering with a specialized digital agency, you’re able to get the exact amount of people with the right skills needed, and you’re even able to easily add new members to the team or let certain people off the project, depending on your needs at the time.

2. Speed

Another factor which often pairs with flexibility is speed. If you choose to partner with an agency, you can get a whole team of proven experts in a matter of days, without any need for elaborate vetting or onboarding. The partner agency will have already taken care of that, and their achievements and references will speak for themselves. 

This also enables a faster time to market for the project, which is key to beating out the competition at a time where essentially every competitor company has a well established digital presence, or is just now implementing it. 

Faster time to market will also help in case of sudden market shifts, as you’ll be able to more quickly respond to them and make the most use out of the new trends.

3. Project uncertainty

Rapidly shifting trends entail a higher degree of project uncertainty, with the scope and goals potentially changing significantly throughout the duration of the project. 

As we previously pointed out, outsourcing strategies are particularly well suited for projects whose course is likely to change, thanks to the speed and flexibility offered by this working arrangement. The ability to easily add or remove personnel from the project with no strings attached goes a long way toward alleviating the concerns of scope changes down the line.

4. Cost

Business disruption is often a reflection of a broader, society-wide disruption. In the case of Covid, many companies have had to downsize their staff and/or budget, looking for novel ways to cut costs while maximizing the return on their investment.

With outsourcing, the only cost comes down to the fees for the work done. You’re able to avoid the overhead of hiring, onboarding and managing in-house employees, let alone other expenses such as health insurance, sick days and vacation pay.

When working with an agency, you’re typically also able to get timely replacements in case of an unexpected illness or another emergency. This contributes to the speed and efficiency so needed in times like these, and ultimately results in lower overall cost of the project with greater ROI.

5. High demand for top talent

While we’ve been seeing a rise of unemployment in certain sectors, all fields within the digital are blooming. Demand for top talent has never been higher, and digital job-seekers (and even job-holders) have more options and opportunities than ever before.

Acquiring the best in-house personnel thus becomes even more difficult with everyone competing for the top talent. And, even if you manage to hire the perfect person, chances that they switch companies (or decide to start freelancing) are proportionately higher depending on how skilled they are.

This means that it’s easier to find top talent for work on a per-project basis rather than in-house. A lot of digital experts decide to work as freelancers, especially now with the ease of remote work; but don’t forget that there can also be greater risk with freelancers than with an agency that thoroughly vets its employees.

6. Busted myths about remote work

Companies which were reluctant to outsource prior to 2020 due to the necessity of remote and asynchronous communication now no longer have any excuses. Why would you mind collaborating remotely with an outsourced team if you’re already used to communicating remotely with your in-house employees anyway?

The rise of remote work and the appeased concerns of people and companies previously inexperienced in it are making outsourcing a much more compelling approach.

Indeed, the past year and a half has proved that remote and asynchronous collaboration doesn’t come at the expense of productivity and innovation - on the contrary, it may in fact even contribute to the two; hence why a hybrid approach to work will likely become predominant even once we transition out of the pandemic.

So, in most ways, a remote partnership with a digital agency or freelancer will not differ at all from working with a full team of in-house employees - the only points where it will are the benefits we outlined in this article.

Conclusion

Big city skyline with the sky representing the cloud/world map

While we’re all hoping for the promised end to this tumultuous period, the trends which have arisen during it are unlikely to just be swept away as soon as it comes to an end. The future of work is now, but you still need to make sure you remain future-ready.

Outsourcing is definitely a great approach which will also come with significant long-term benefits if you’re able to find the right partner. If you happen to be looking for a development partner, learn more about the different ways of working with us:

or get in-touch with us and we can answer any further or specific questions you may have.

Jun 20 2021
Jun 20

The above stats come from the “8.x, 9.x, 10.x versions.” Meanwhile, 7.x also has 4,906 open issues, although these will only be relevant to Drupal 7 and not carried forward when support for Drupal 7 ends.

The number of open issues at each status has approximately tripled in the past eight years.

Why is the queue growing so fast?

  • We have adopted several large issue queues from contrib. There are 1,660 open core issues against Views/Views UI; 420 are against Migrate and 370 are against Media. Just these three subsystems account for more than 10% percent of the total issues against core.
  • Very few core modules have been removed during the same period. 
  • Even when modules don't have many issues against them specifically, they will be included in cross-core issues (cspell, phpunit deprecations, etc.), adding to the amount of code to be modified and reviewed.
  • Issue queue size itself causes a feedback loop. If you find a bug, it is harder to find among 18,000 issues than 300, so you are more likely to create a duplicate bug report. Every duplicate bug report could have been a review/test of an existing patch instead. If you're looking for an issue to work on, it is harder to know where to start. If you're involved in 100 open issues, it is harder to keep track of them and requires more context switching than if only 10 are open.
  • A lot of people are using core and opening issues against it. We may want to look into statistics for how many issues are opened per year, too.

What is preventing throughput?

The RTBC queue is a significant bottleneck. At many points in the past three to five years, we have reached over 150 RTBC issues. It can then take weeks of sustained effort to get back under 50. The queue very rarely goes under 30 issues. This is despite adding more committers to the team. However, this is not a new situation — there are always several issues RTBCed every day from a very large pull of issues at “needs review,” and the RTBC queue snapshot from 2013 shows 90 issues RTBC.

While there are more committers now than in 2013, there’s also a lot more core committer work that doesn't involve committing patches — minor releases every six months with alpha/beta/rcs, core initiatives, security support for two minor branches at a time plus the LTS branch, and often co-ordinating security releases with upstream projects.

RTBC issues take more time to review since Drupal 8 released, particularly backward compatibility and backport eligibility decisions. Steps such as assigning contribution credits can double or triple the time they usually take to commit a trivial issue. Therefore the slower commit rate doesn't necessarily indicate less activity; it also shows more effort spent on each issue.

When the RTBC queue is long, there is a knock-on effect on other contributions. Core contributors will have a threshold of patches they've worked on that are stuck at RTBC, after which other patches may be blocked on those commits, or they may just want to see progress on their RTBC issues before picking up the next ones. This varies for different people, but there is a limit to how many issues anyone can work on simultaneously.

A long RTBC queue also increases the chance that any one individual issue will be hit by either a random test failure or conflict with another patch that's committed. At the same time, it's RTBC, artificially taking it out and returning it to the RTBC queue.

The quality of RTBCs is not always high, meaning one issue can take multiple rounds of feedback from a committer before it can be committed. In many cases, these could have been found by an experienced reviewer earlier in the process.

There are approximately 1,500 commits made to the development branch of core per year, a rate that has been steady since 2017. This is lower than the peaks of 4,300 in 2013-14 (just before the release of Drupal 8) and 2,700 in 2009-10 (just before the release of Drupal 7).

Several commits don’t necessarily indicate the actual throughput of work. For example, code style scoping guidelines encourage a handful of issues with large patches in each, vs. dozens of issues with small patches, which was common in previous years for identical changes to the code base. Additionally, it says nothing about the type of issues being committed — i.e., whether they're critical bug fixes or typos in code comments. However, it does show that the frenzy of commits around Drupal's old big bang major releases has flattened out considerably with the new release cycle.

Possible solutions

  • Add more core committers, especially people who primarily focus on the RTBC queue.
  • Ensure that RTBC queue time is funded for new and existing core committers.
  • Fix or disable random test failures to reduce pointless RTBC queue noise. Some random failures have been around for over a year without resolution.
  • Look at ways to streamline the commit process, although these almost always have trade-offs vs. consistency/quality/issue credit etc.
  • Try to improve the quality of RTBCs by cultivating more experienced reviewers and rewarding more high-quality reviews.

Needs review, needs work, and active

While the RTBC queue is very busy and sometimes congested, the needs review queue is more like a giant car park, with nearly 3,500 issues waiting for review.

When an issue is RTBC, you have a reasonable expectation that a core committer will review the issue within x amount of time and either provide feedback or commit it. This is a small but concrete group of people.

“Needs review” issues can be reviewed by anyone other than the patch author — theoretically a very large number of people—but in practice, a lot less than those opening issues or even posting patches.

An issue at “needs review” for more than a week without any feedback is effectively stalled, and 3.5k needs review issues indicate this happens a lot.

The oldest issue in the needs review queue (at the time of this writing) is nine years and nine months old. The most recent patch was posted in 2011, passed 190 simpletest test, and was never retested. The most recent comment was in 2018, suggesting it should be closed as no longer relevant but not actually changing the status. In general, an issue that needs review is either ready to commit, needs more work, or isn’t applicable. The ideal state of the needs review queue then would be a shortlist of issues (tens, not hundreds) that have just been marked needs review, then quickly get feedback so they can go back for another round of work or on to commit.

On the other hand, there are many reasons why issues might be “active” or “needs work.” Many issues are legitimately at that state while solutions and patches are being worked on, while many more will be essentially unviable — duplicates, bugs that should have been posted against contrib modules, cannot reproduce, etc.

With a large number of issues against core, many are closely related or duplicates. This often results in split efforts and isolation; for example, people experiencing a bug post a new issue rather than finding an existing issue with a working patch, which they might be able to contribute to reviewing and getting committed. Or two sets of people work on patches in different issues, one ultimately getting discarded after weeks, months, or years when the other is committed.

The Drupal community is extremely reluctant to move issues to won't fix/by design/duplicate/outdated. While marking an issue duplicate usually connects it to another active one, the other statuses are a dead end. On the one hand, this makes the issue queue friendlier, where other projects might immediately reply to a bug report or feature request with “won't fix”; on the other, it makes it hard to know what has a viable route to commit and what doesn't.

For example, there are 549 issues marked “postponed, maintainer needs more info.” The oldest was put into that state 10 years and one month ago.

Possible solutions

  • Retesting of “needs review” issues. Many “needs review” issues haven't had a test run in several years.  
  • Show related issues via apachesolr-related content in addition to the current manual links, and display these in a block when viewing issues may enable duplicates to be more quickly identified.
  • When posting a new issue, we could try to find similar issues based on the contents of the form before it is posted, potentially preventing duplicate issues from being posted in the first place.
  • The above and a few other issues are collected under this meta.
  • Develop more precise criteria for invalid issues to be closed (cannot reproduce etc.) and deal with both.
  • Critical and major triage, carried out by core committers, sometimes with subsystem maintainers, effectively reduced the length of both queues (especially as Drupal 8 was nearing release). We could look at reviving this. However, the number of critical issues has remained relatively steady since Drupal 8’s release.
  • Bugsmash has lowered, or at least flattened, the total number of bugs against core, including fixing some very old issues. Could we set up a similar triage initiative for tasks?
     
Jun 19 2021
Jun 19

How do you enable that module for just the live site again?

Kaleem Clarkson

Let’s first start off with understanding what the Configuration Split module does. In simple terms, it allows you to have different site configurations for your different environments. For example, you want to turn off the Views UI module on your live site. Or you want to turn off your Google Analytics module on your local, dev, and test environments but still have it active on your live site.

There are so many great articles on setting up configuration split. Here are a few good ones that I suggest reading to get you caught up to speed.

In other words, say that you have already set up your config-splits a few months ago but now your client wants to add email support using the SMTP module but you only want this enabled on the live site so you don’t accidentally send out an email from your local site to 1000’s of users. ps — I have done it before Ouch :)

Well in order to add to the live configuration you need to enable the live config split. The natural first step is to go to the config-split UI and disable the develop configuration and enable the live config. Click Click Click. But nothing. Such a simple thing but why in the heck are you not able to enable the live configuration?

Ohhh snap, that settings.php file got me again.

One thing all of these tutorials have in common is that they show you how to set the active and inactive config-splits in your settings.php. For some servers, the code is slightly different but the idea here is that Drupal needs to somehow know what environment you are on in order to import the right configuration.

Yep! That darn settings.phpfile. The reason you cannot activate the live configuration settings in the UI is that the settings.phpfile overrides the UI click clicks. So you need to go to your file and either temporarily comment out that code or just reverse the logic. So here is what I do.

  1. Reverse the logic in the settings.php file. For me, I just have to switch out a ! in my code so that my dev and live environments are reversed.
  2. drush cr — Cache rules everything around me — Clear it
  3. drush cim Load all of your config from the live environment into your local
  4. Enable my new SMTP module.
  5. Edit the live config split and check the box next to the SMTP module
  6. drush cex — configuration export
  7. git checkout settings.php so that my file reverts back to my old settings
  8. drush cr— you know the drill clear that cache
  9. drush cimThis disables the SMTP module and loads just the development modules on your core
  10. git commit my changes

I then check my setting by doing a drush csim live. This command imports the settings from the live config. You can also check your config directories manually or with a git statusto ensure there are new files in both of your dev and live directories.

If any of you have a better way to enable and add some new configuration to the live environment without all of the steps, help a brother out and let me know in the comments.

Jun 18 2021
Jun 18

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

Is it Safe to Stay on Drupal 7?

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

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

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

Security Risks

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

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

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

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

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

Integration Risks

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

Functionality Risks

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

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

Talk To Us

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

Jun 17 2021
Jun 17

Video Transcript:

"If you've installed or updated Acquia’s DevDesktop lately, you've seen this message:

Alternatives to Acquia’s DevDesktop For Local Drupal Development

And so you know that DevDesktop is approaching end of life.  

In this video, I'm going to give you two alternatives to Acquia’s DevDesktop For Local Drupal Development. You know I've used this software for years now and introduced literally thousands and thousands of people to Drupal using Acquia’s DevDesktop. It's a shame that it's going away, but we've got alternatives.

Let's dive in.

There are two excellent alternatives to DevDesktop:

  1. MAMP PRO: MAMP and MAMP PRO are available for both Mac and Windows.
  2. DDEV-Local

The first option, MAMP PRO, offers a lot more flexibility, but it's $89 USD, and an upgrade from any previous version is $39.50.  The Windows version is $79 USD. Here's what MAMP PRO looks like when it's up and running.

Alternatives to Acquia’s DevDesktop For Local Drupal Development

If you prefer to have a graphical user interface,also known as a GUI, then MAMP is the one you want to go with.  Adding a new site is as simple as clicking the plus icon just like in DevDesktop. The difference here is that you won't get some of the tools that DevDesktop gives you built in. Composer and Drush both need to be added manually, but there is excellent documentation on doing just that.

MAMP PRO allows you to select:

  1. PHP versions
  2. Apache version 
  3. Nginx

You can have SSL certificates, you can create as many databases as you need, and you can even provide a public url or transfer the site to the cloud. Another nice thing with MAMP is it very easily allows you to update your php.ini files, set up op cache which is always an error when installing drupal when it's not present, and the interface just gives you a lot of tools to work with right out of the box. Here it is drupal on MAMP:

Alternatives to Acquia’s DevDesktop For Local Drupal Development

This was installed using Composer, but as I mentioned you'll need to install Composer manually if you're going to use MAMP. There's an excellent tutorial here by www.div.digital on how to install Homebrew Composer and Drush on your Mac or for Windows.

The second, and probably better option, is DDEV-Local.  DDEV-Local is absolutely amazing, but it doesn't give you any graphical user interface. It's all command line base. One of the best tutorials I've seen for getting DDEV-Local up and running on your site is the local web development book by Mike Anello that is included with an OSTraining subscription, or you can order it straight from amazon.com.   

It is a really terrific book that covers:

  1. The basics of DDEV-Local.
  2. Getting a new site up and running with DDEV-Local; either drupal or wordpress.
  3. How you can use Drush, Composer, and other command line tools including git right, within DDEV-Local.

It's a fantastic book, and I strongly recommend it. There is also terrific documentation at DDEV.com.

I was able to get a site up and running with DDEV as well, also installed via composer.

A04DF5CA 090A 4738 9ED1 CCFBD8ED9CA1
Both MAMP Pro and DDEV-Local took me about 40 minutes to get set up and ready using the instructions I found either online or in the book.

While not quite as convenient as DevDesktop, these two alternatives will give you long-term stability in your local host drupal environment. I hope this has been helpful. 

If you'd like additional training using Mike Anello's book, OSTraining launched a new video course titled "DDEV Explained."  Be sure to check that out.

Thanks for tuning in today.  This is OSTips from OSTraining, and I'm Rod Martin."

[embedded content]


About the author

Rod holds two masters degrees and has been training people how to do "things" for over 25 years. Originally from Australia, he grew up in Canada and now resides just outside Cincinnati, Ohio.
Jun 17 2021
Jun 17

Lynette has been part of the Drupal community since Drupalcon Brussels in 2006. She comes from a technical support background, from front-line to developer liaison, giving her a strong understanding of the user experience. She took the next step by writing the majority of Drupal's Building Blocks, focused on some of the most popular Drupal modules at the time. From there, she moved on to working as a professional technical writer, spending seven years at Acquia, working with nearly every product offering. As a writer, her mantra is "Make your documentation so good your users never need to call you."

Lynette lives in San Jose, California where she is a knitter, occasionally a brewer, a newly-minted 3D printing enthusiast, and has too many other hobbies. She also homeschools her two children, and has three house cats, two porch cats, and two rabbits.

Jun 16 2021
Jun 16

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Migrations from Drupal 7 can be as varied and diverse as humanity itself. Goals, audiences, servers, content models, and more all come together to form a unique fingerprint. No two migrations are ever really the same.

But despite the uniqueness of each, there are some commonalities. You can take steps to ensure your migration will be a success, no matter how complex or simple.

You just need to start planning it out.

Map out your Source

You need to know where you are coming from. This is how you begin to determine the length of the journey and how many supplies you’ll need along the way. 

Start mapping out your current Drupal 7 website.

Fields and content types

Make a list of all of your current fields and the content types they are attached to. Include the field type, machine name, and the complexity of the data stored in that field. You can come up with your own complexity scale that makes sense to your team. Some examples:

  • Basic - A single-value textfield
  • Intermediate - A formatted textfield. These fields can range in complexity depending upon what is allowed. Some allow only links and basic formatting, which are not complex, but others might allow embedded snippets and images. Move the scale accordingly.
  • High - Multi-value fields with multiple columns of data almost always need extra work to migrate. Field Collections and Paragraphs might fall in this category.
  • File - Sometimes, categorizing complexity by the type of data can be helpful. It depends on your eventual workflow or how many fields of a certain type you may have.

Spend some extra time thinking about your entity reference fields. More on this later.

For a quick start on getting all of your content types and fields listed in a spreadsheet, check out the Migration Planner module. View a sample spreadsheet created by the module.

Taxonomy

Taxonomy vocabularies can also have fields attached, so you’ll want to make a list similar to what you have done with content types and their fields. But taxonomies have their own challenges.

Often, they help organize a Drupal site. By design, they are referenced by other entities and can have all the migration issues that come with that.

Taxonomy terms can also have their own hierarchy. If you have terms that are parents of other terms, find a way to record this relationship. Make a note of the depth.

Files

Drupal 7 has many ways to manage files, so you need to document exactly what you have. You are likely using the Media and File Entity modules. Document which file types you are using, how many of each file type you have, and get an estimate of the storage space being used. As you did with content types and taxonomies, list the fields for each file type and categorize them.

If you are using native file handling, you will still want to map out what you have. Your developers will thank you.

Views

There is no way to migrate your Views reliably, so each will need to be recreated on your new site. Each one represents some work. Some might rely on extra business logic in custom code or on plugins provided by contrib modules. Do an audit and determine any dependencies.

Architecture

You will start to map out the contours of this as you take stock of your content types, taxonomies, and fields, but other things make up your overall architecture.

  • Menus - Not just the main menu and footer menus. Make sure you pull in contextual menus that might be embedded conditionally or placed via a block.
  • Other entities - Do you have other content entities besides nodes and taxonomies? Don’t forget about them. These could be custom components or something like Paragraphs.
  • Hosting - Detail out your current hosting platform. Resources, apps, integrations, etc. This might be something else you need to upgrade to ensure the smooth running of Drupal 8/9. Or you might be migrating onto a different hosting provider, and if that is the case, you want to at least keep parity with your current solution.

Pay special attention to your entity reference fields that you identified in previous steps. These can mask hidden domain knowledge and act as pillars for your entire site architecture. Dig into them. Make sure you know their purpose.

Contrib modules

Make a list of all Drupal 7 contrib modules you have installed. Contrib modules can represent a lot of effort in a migration, so you’ll want to explore each one in-depth. Is there a Drupal 8/9 equivalent? If so, is the new module stable? How much work is left? 

Alternatively, a module could have been rolled into Drupal core. If so, you’ll want to see if there are any differences so you can take those into account during the migration.

If no current module exists, what is the estimated level of effort to recreate this functionality?

Custom functionality

Make a list of all of your custom modules. Be sure also to make a note of business logic that might be in your custom themes. A lot can be embedded in template files.

You should note the complexity of the functionality and what it is used for. You’ll want to check the Drupal 8/9 contrib ecosystem to see if any modules can replace this custom functionality. This might entail conversations with your stakeholders and team about priorities and goals. A contrib module might replace 80% of your custom module, and you need to know if that is acceptable or not.

If you have limited resources, you might also want to mark custom functionality on a spectrum of “mission-critical” to “nice-to-have.”

These conversations will continue as you map out your destination.

What do you not want to migrate?

Now is a good time to do a site audit. As you are compiling all of this information and start having conversations around your goals and content model, come up with criteria for what shouldn’t be migrated. The less you have to migrate, the less work you’ll need to undertake.

Is there a cutoff date for old articles? A certain taxonomy that is no longer used? Are some fields for cosmetic purposes, and they won’t be relevant for your new design? Do all users need to be migrated over? What about unpublished content? Or revisions? Cutting out revisions will reduce the size of your database drastically, but then editors will not be able to view past changes. 

This is where a little bit of work can pay big dividends later.

Some additional questions to ask

  • How will you handle files? Files can be transferred during the migration itself, but sometimes it’s better to do one big transfer, so your migrations run more quickly. This usually means some cleanup of unused files beforehand. If you have a lot of files not managed by Drupal, moving the filesystem in bulk might be necessary.
  • Will you keep the same paths for your content or change them? If your paths are changing, be sure you have a good 301 redirect solution in place.

Map out your Destination

You need to know where you are going. This can be done in parallel to mapping out your source because what you determine here will help answer some of the questions above.

Start by figuring out the literal destination for your new Drupal 8/9 site: the servers and hosting. Whatever your setup, you’ll need to plan some way for it to access your Drupal 7 site. This can be as simple as copying the database and files over to the new platform.

But if your site is huge, or you want to do a continuous migration until a final cutoff date, you’ll want access to the live production data. Or at least a replica that stays up to date.

You’ll also want to make plans for a development or testing environment that will mimic your final destination server as much as possible.

Evaluate your content model

You can keep everything exactly the way it is. Same content types. Same fields. Same everything. Drupal will do a good job of re-creating these for you on the new site. If you are limited in time and budget or your site is not complex, this might be the best way to go.

Be warned. If you have relied on the body field for creating complex content, you will still have a lot of work to do, even if you don’t plan on reworking your content model. And regardless, you still need to understand the gaps created by your custom functionality and reliance on certain contrib modules.

For these reasons and many others, a migration is a good opportunity to rework your content model to better align with your strategy and the needs of your audiences. Especially editors. Don’t forget them! It’s also a good opportunity to structure your content for the needs of a“publish everywhere” ecosystem.

Run some workshops that clarify your priorities. Document a new content model that takes those priorities into account. Add additional columns to the spreadsheet you created for your source content types and fields. These columns should contain the machine names of your new content types and fields.

Sometimes you’ll find a need to consolidate content types and/or fields. Two content types funnel into one new content type. Or three different fields are cleaned up into one single field. That should be expected. And Drupal’s migration tools make it simple to do this.

Clarifying your new content model will also help answer questions about your Drupal 7 site, like what content you need to leave out of the migration.

WYSIWYG cleanup

Your body fields (and other formatted text fields) might have accumulated a lot of cruft in the years your Drupal 7 site has existed. Different ways of displaying images, iframes, custom embed codes, etc. You’ll have to deal with each of these.

Cleaning up a formatted body field can balloon into an entire project by itself. Be sure you inventory everything that occurs in a body field, document what needs to be migrated as-is, document what needs to be transformed, and document what can be ignored or deleted. If you are changing your text filters and formatting rules, you’ll want to make sure your content meets those new requirements.

The SQueaLer module helps you find these issues, among other things. This is still in development and might need some tweaking to work with your particular Drupal site.

Again, having conversations around your new content model will pay heavy dividends here. You can come out of this migration with not just a new website but a better website that better accomplishes your goals.

And a website that your editors actually like to use. 

WYSIWYG cleanup goes a long way. Don’t limit cleanup to code, either. Sometimes, manual cleanup makes more sense.

Development Workflow

Once you have mapped your source and destination, you’ll be able to start estimating the level of effort involved. 

Team planning

A lot of migration work can happen in parallel, but the schedule will depend upon your budget and the team you have in place.

We have seen migrations be successful with one backend developer, and we have seen migrations be successful with four back-end developers. There is a point of diminishing returns. You don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen. If you have experienced developers on your team, they should be able to help you determine when you might reach that point.

Splitting up migration work based on field types has worked well. We have found it helpful to start with more basic fields to get momentum. You get the overall processes hashed out without worrying about complex data sets and transformations.

An example way of breaking up responsibilities between developers might look like the following:

  • Basic fields and simple formatted fields
  • File/image fields
  • Paragraphs, field collections, and other entity references
  • WYSIWYG cleanup
  • Contrib module updates and replacements
  • Custom functionality

There will be some overlap and bleeding across these boundaries, but these are a good starting point in terms of spheres of initial responsibility. Keep in mind that the complexity of your content model can have big ramifications for your team planning.

Solution preferences

When configuring a particular migration, you want a clear order of preference for the solutions you use. This will help save you from extra work and unnecessary technical debt.

The simplest migration entails mapping one field to another in a configuration file. Even basic transformations can be accomplished with this. These will usually invoke plugins that are included in Drupal core or contrib modules. Start here first.

If core and contrib fail you, move to writing your own source, process, or destination plugins. This should cover most of your use cases.

For certain edge cases, you can invoke hooks and react to events at different stages of the process.

QA and testing

Migrations require QA and testing, so be sure and budget time for that. Having a good development server or environment builder like Tugboat will allow migrations to be run and issues surfaced. 

Stakeholders can check migrated content to make sure everything shows up as expected. Other developers can validate results and look at the underlying data structure. 

This is also where you’ll want to grab any logs generated by the process.

Logging and exceptions

In our experience, migrations create a lot of noise. Warnings, errors, notices, etc. Some of these can be safely ignored, but to figure that out, you’ll want to pay attention to the logs. This is more important if you have several developers working in parallel or you are migrating several sites, each of which might have different edge cases.

But even if you have just one backend developer on the task, you’ll want to make a habit of going over the logs regularly.

  • Some can be ignored. Ignore them.
  • Some need greater clarification from a developer. Make those clarifications and see if a new ticket needs to be created.
  • Some need the attention of a stakeholder. Circulate these and discuss them in your status updates. If you aren’t sure how to handle that rogue iframe, ask.
  • Some need fixing. Though some might also be a low priority. If so, make a ticket, put it in the backlog, and keep moving.

When logging issues, be sure to record the current row id and the relevant migration id. This practice can help you find edge cases. Core and contrib migration plugins will provide logs, but if you end up writing custom plugins, be sure to add logging with clear messaging wherever issues might happen. Write custom plugins defensively.

Nested fields (Paragraphs and Field Collections)

If you are dealing with nested fields of structured data, pay special attention to how they are structured and how you will deal with them on the new site.

Paragraphs and Field Collections are the most common, but you might also have a custom solution build with entity references and content types. There are a lot of different ways you can go, and each way has its challenges. It also depends on how your editors best like to work.

Paragraphs to Paragraphs? If so, are you changing the structure?

Field Collections to Paragraphs?

Paragraphs or Field Collections to embedded entities in the body field?

Paragraphs or Field Collections to a custom structure implemented via entity references?

Or maybe you have embedded entities and want to migrate them to Paragraphs?

This is why evaluating your content model is so important. Each path has implications. You don’t want to simply choose the default path. You want to choose a path with intention, with your eyes open, understanding the challenges you need to overcome to get to the other side.

Summary

Planning properly can help you budget properly for both team size and timing. You can get a bigger picture and map out the potential minefields before you even start on your journey.

  • Map your source
  • Map your destination
  • Pay attention to WYSIWYG cleanup
  • Think about your development workflow to maximize resources

If you want an experienced partner that can help you through every stage of the migration process, reach out. We would love to help.

Jun 16 2021
Jun 16

In November 2022, the Drupal community and the Drupal Security Team will end their support for Drupal 7. By that time, all Drupal websites will need to be on Drupal 8 to continue receiving updates and security fixes from the community. The jump from Drupal 7 to 8 is a tricky migration. It often requires complex transformations to move content stuck in old systems into Drupal’s new paradigm. If you are new to Drupal migrations, you can read the official Drupal Migrate API, follow Mauricio Dinarte’s 31 Days of Drupal Migrations starter series, or watch Redfin Solutions’ own Chris Wells give a crash course training session. This blog series covers more advanced topics such as niche migration tools, content restructuring, and various custom code solutions. To catch up, read the previous blog posts Custom Migration Cron Job, Migration Custom Source Plugin, and Connecting a Transact SQL Database to Drupal.

Migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 often requires restructuring your content, like transforming an unlimited text field into paragraphs or a list text field into a taxonomy reference. The tricky part is that the migration pipeline wants each source entity to go to one destination entity, but each paragraph or taxonomy term is a new entity and a single node can reference several of these.

So how do you break up data from one entity and migrate it into multiple entities?

Manual entry

If there’s a small set of old content or you’re already manually adding new content, then manual entry is a viable solution, but it shouldn’t be the default for large migrations. Going this route, you want to set up content editors for easy success. If possible, reduce the number of actions needed for a repeated task. With some clever string concatenation in your query results, you can create exact links to all the node edit pages that need updating. This is much easier than giving someone a node id or page title and asking them to fix that page. Just because it’s not an automatic migration, doesn’t mean we can’t automate aspects of it.

The CSV Importer module is useful for simple data that already exists in a CSV file or can be quickly exported as a CSV file. For example, a spreadsheet with hundreds of country names could easily be imported as taxonomy terms with this tool. Or a list of emails and names could be imported as Users. Once you’ve migrated your data, you can reference them in other migrations using the static_map plugin or a custom process plugin to lookup the correct entity reference. Be careful not to abuse the static_map plugin with hundreds of mappings. In the country example, if the source data contains the name of the country that you want to reference in the destination, you could write a process plugin that gets the taxonomy id from the name. Remember that once entities are migrated you can use the full power of Drupal to find their id’s in later migrations.

Generate entities during migration

Use the entity_generate plugin or a custom plugin to create the entities during the migration process. This gives more control over how the data is transformed, but there’s no way to rollback or update the generated entities through the migration API. This shouldn’t be the default, but can be necessary for more complicated matters such as breaking down a dense wysiwyg field into separate paragraphs (see Benji Fisher’s custom process plugin).

Migrate entities separately with a custom source plugin

See our earlier blog post for a step-by-step guide on this. Drupal core provides lots of useful source plugins, but sometimes you need a custom query to migrate specific source data into entities. This approach gives you that flexibility within Drupal’s migration workflow. Unlike the previous option, you can still rollback and update entities and leverage all the other migration tools.

How you perform a data transformation like this is largely contextual, but these are powerful tools that can be used in many cases. Contact us with any questions regarding complex Drupal migrations, or if you are looking for a Drupal agency to help with your next website project.

Jun 16 2021
Jun 16
easy hreflang module install and configuration

https://www.drupal.org/project/hreflang

Credit and Thanks

Thank you to Mark Burdett for creating and maintaining this module.

About the Hreflang module

The Hreflang module automatically adds hreflang tags to your pages. Search engines reference the alternate hreflang tag to serve the correct language or regional URL in search results which is important for multilingual websites.

In Drupal, the Core Content Translation module does add hreflang tags to translated entity pages. However, hreflang tags should be added to all pages, even untranslated ones. This module manages this for you.

Install and Enable the Hreflang module

  1. Install the Hreflang module on your server. (See this page for more instructions on installing modules.)
     
  2. Go to the Extend page: Click Manage > Extend (Coffee: “extend”) or visit https:///admin/modules.
     installing the hreflang module
  3. Select the checkbox next to Hreflang and click the Install button at the bottom of the page.
     

There are no permissions to set or further settings to change.

an example of what hreflang looks like in the code

As you can see from the above screenshot in the example website, the hreflang for each different language version of the site has been set by the Hreflang module.

Did you like this walkthrough? Please tell your friends about it!

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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.

[embedded content]

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 16 2021
Jun 16

What’s new in Drupal 9.2.0?

The second feature release of Drupal 9 helps keep your site even more secure, and comes with increased visitor privacy protection, improved migration tools from Drupal 7, enhancements to the Olivero frontend theme and early support for the WebP image format.

Download Drupal 9.2.0

Security and privacy improvements

Critical security advisories and public service announcements will now be displayed on the status report page and certain administration pages for the site's administrators. This helps prepare site owners to apply security fixes in a timely manner. For increased privacy protection of your site visitors, Drupal 9.2.0 now blocks Google Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) cookie-less user tracking by default.

Better building blocks out of the box

The Olivero theme, soon to be Drupal's new default frontend theme, has dozens of major improvements in this release, including a new form design and various accessibility fixes. The built-in Umami demo is now also more flexible with a built-in editor role and more versatile Layout Builder demonstration.

On the way to Drupal 10

In preparation for Drupal 10, all Symfony 5 and and several Symfony 6 compatibility issues have been resolved. As part of modernizing the frontend of Drupal 9, core's Tour feature now uses ShepherdJS instead of jQuery Joyride. This significantly improves accessibility of tours and removes one more reliance on jQuery.

Other improvements

The already stable migration path from Drupal 7 is now expanded with migrations for user settings, node/user reference fields and other previously missing pieces.

Drupal's GD toolkit integration, and, therefore image styles, can now manage WebP images. There is more to do for complete WebP support. Stay tuned for improvements in future releases.

Sneak peek at future core features

The upcoming core CKEditor 5 upgrade is being worked on in a contributed project. Progress has been made on various aspects of the roadmap, and the project is near to completing all issues identified as requirements for tagging a beta release. Core inclusion is expected in Drupal 9.3.0, but contributed projects are requested to build compatibility ahead of that.

The Automated Updates Initiative has been very active in the repositories under https://github.com/php-tuf building a PHP implementation of The Update Framework (TUF) with Typo3 and Joomla developers to provide signing and verification for secure PHP application updates. Results will be included with later Drupal releases.

Check out the initiative keynotes from DrupalCon North America 2021 on what else is in the works.

What does this mean for me?

Drupal 9 site owners

Drupal 9.0.x is now out of security coverage. Update at least to 9.1.x to continue to receive security support.

Drupal 8 site owners

Update to at least 8.9.x to continue receiving bug fixes until Drupal 8's end of life in November 2021. The next bug-fix release (8.9.17) is scheduled for July 7, 2021. (See the release schedule overview for more information.) Versions of Drupal 8 before 8.9.x no longer receive security coverage.

With only five months left until the end of life of Drupal 8, we suggest that you upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 as soon as possible. Upgrading is supported directly from 8.8.x and 8.9.x. Of the top 1000 most used drupal.org projects, 94% are updated for Drupal 9, so the modules and themes you rely on are most likely compatible.

Drupal 7 site owners

Drupal 7 is supported until November 28, 2022, and will continue to receive bug and security fixes throughout this time. From November 2022 until at least November 2025, the Drupal 7 Vendor Extended Support program will be offered by vendors.

On the other hand, the migration path for Drupal 7 sites to Drupal 9 is stable. Read more about the migration to Drupal 9.

Translation, module, and theme contributors

Minor releases like Drupal 9.2.0 include backwards-compatible API additions for developers as well as new features.

Since minor releases are backwards-compatible, modules, themes, and translations that supported Drupal 9.1.x and earlier will be compatible with 9.2.x as well. However, the new version does include some changes to strings, user interfaces, internal APIs and API deprecations. This means that some small updates may be required for your translations, modules, and themes. Read the 9.2.0 release notes for a full list of changes that may affect your modules and themes.

This release has further advanced the Drupal project and represents the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and contributors from various organizations. Thank you to everyone who contributed to Drupal 9.2.0!

Jun 16 2021
Jun 16

What’s new in Drupal 9.2.0?

The second feature release of Drupal 9 helps keep your site even more secure, and comes with increased visitor privacy protection, improved migration tools from Drupal 7, enhancements to the Olivero frontend theme and early support for the WebP image format.

Download Drupal 9.2.0

Security and privacy improvements

Critical security advisories and public service announcements will now be displayed on the status report page and certain administration pages for the site's administrators. This helps prepare site owners to apply security fixes in a timely manner. For increased privacy protection of your site visitors, Drupal 9.2.0 now blocks Google Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) cookie-less user tracking by default.

Better building blocks out of the box

The Olivero theme, soon to be Drupal's new default frontend theme, has dozens of major improvements in this release, including a new form design and various accessibility fixes. The built-in Umami demo is now also more flexible with a built-in editor role and more versatile Layout Builder demonstration.

On the way to Drupal 10

In preparation for Drupal 10, all Symfony 5 and and several Symfony 6 compatibility issues have been resolved. As part of modernizing the frontend of Drupal 9, core's Tour feature now uses ShepherdJS instead of jQuery Joyride. This significantly improves accessibility of tours and removes one more reliance on jQuery.

Other improvements

The already stable migration path from Drupal 7 is now expanded with migrations for user settings, node/user reference fields and other previously missing pieces.

Drupal's GD toolkit integration, and, therefore image styles, can now manage WebP images. There is more to do for complete WebP support. Stay tuned for improvements in future releases.

Sneak peek at future core features

The upcoming core CKEditor 5 upgrade is being worked on in a contributed project. Progress has been made on various aspects of the roadmap, and the project is near to completing all issues identified as requirements for tagging a beta release. Core inclusion is expected in Drupal 9.3.0, but contributed projects are requested to build compatibility ahead of that.

The Automated Updates Initiative has been very active in the repositories under https://github.com/php-tuf building a PHP implementation of The Update Framework (TUF) with Typo3 and Joomla developers to provide signing and verification for secure PHP application updates. Results will be included with later Drupal releases.

Check out the initiative keynotes from DrupalCon North America 2021 on what else is in the works.

What does this mean for me?

Drupal 9 site owners

Drupal 9.0.x is now out of security coverage. Update at least to 9.1.x to continue to receive security support.

Drupal 8 site owners

Update to at least 8.9.x to continue receiving bug fixes until Drupal 8's end of life in November 2021. The next bug-fix release (8.9.17) is scheduled for July 7, 2021. (See the release schedule overview for more information.) Versions of Drupal 8 before 8.9.x no longer receive security coverage.

With only five months left until the end of life of Drupal 8, we suggest that you upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 as soon as possible. Upgrading is supported directly from 8.8.x and 8.9.x. Of the top 1000 most used drupal.org projects, 94% are updated for Drupal 9, so the modules and themes you rely on are most likely compatible.

Drupal 7 site owners

Drupal 7 is supported until November 28, 2022, and will continue to receive bug and security fixes throughout this time. From November 2022 until at least November 2025, the Drupal 7 Vendor Extended Support program will be offered by vendors.

On the other hand, the migration path for Drupal 7 sites to Drupal 9 is stable. Read more about the migration to Drupal 9.

Translation, module, and theme contributors

Minor releases like Drupal 9.2.0 include backwards-compatible API additions for developers as well as new features.

Since minor releases are backwards-compatible, modules, themes, and translations that supported Drupal 9.1.x and earlier will be compatible with 9.2.x as well. However, the new version does include some changes to strings, user interfaces, internal APIs and API deprecations. This means that some small updates may be required for your translations, modules, and themes. Read the 9.2.0 release notes for a full list of changes that may affect your modules and themes.

This release has further advanced the Drupal project and represents the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and contributors from various organizations. Thank you to everyone who contributed to Drupal 9.2.0!

Jun 16 2021
Jun 16

What’s new in Drupal 9.2.0?

The second feature release of Drupal 9 helps keep your site even more secure, and comes with increased visitor privacy protection, improved migration tools from Drupal 7, enhancements to the Olivero frontend theme and early support for the WebP image format.

Download Drupal 9.2.0

Security and privacy improvements

Critical security advisories and public service announcements will now be displayed on the status report page and certain administration pages for the site's administrators. This helps prepare site owners to apply security fixes in a timely manner. For increased privacy protection of your site visitors, Drupal 9.2.0 now blocks Google Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) cookie-less user tracking by default.

Better building blocks out of the box

The Olivero theme, soon to be Drupal's new default frontend theme, has dozens of major improvements in this release, including a new form design and various accessibility fixes. The built-in Umami demo is now also more flexible with a built-in editor role and more versatile Layout Builder demonstration.

On the way to Drupal 10

In preparation for Drupal 10, all Symfony 5 and and several Symfony 6 compatibility issues have been resolved. As part of modernizing the frontend of Drupal 9, core's Tour feature now uses ShepherdJS instead of jQuery Joyride. This significantly improves accessibility of tours and removes one more reliance on jQuery.

Other improvements

The already stable migration path from Drupal 7 is now expanded with migrations for user settings, node/user reference fields and other previously missing pieces.

Drupal's GD toolkit integration, and, therefore image styles, can now manage WebP images. There is more to do for complete WebP support. Stay tuned for improvements in future releases.

Sneak peek at future core features

The upcoming core CKEditor 5 upgrade is being worked on in a contributed project. Progress has been made on various aspects of the roadmap, and the project is near to completing all issues identified as requirements for tagging a beta release. Core inclusion is expected in Drupal 9.3.0, but contributed projects are requested to build compatibility ahead of that.

The Automated Updates Initiative has been very active in the repositories under https://github.com/php-tuf building a PHP implementation of The Update Framework (TUF) with Typo3 and Joomla developers to provide signing and verification for secure PHP application updates. Results will be included with later Drupal releases.

Check out the initiative keynotes from DrupalCon North America 2021 on what else is in the works.

What does this mean for me?

Drupal 9 site owners

Drupal 9.0.x is now out of security coverage. Update at least to 9.1.x to continue to receive security support.

Drupal 8 site owners

Update to at least 8.9.x to continue receiving bug fixes until Drupal 8's end of life in November 2021. The next bug-fix release (8.9.17) is scheduled for July 7, 2021. (See the release schedule overview for more information.) Versions of Drupal 8 before 8.9.x no longer receive security coverage.

With only five months left until the end of life of Drupal 8, we suggest that you upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 as soon as possible. Upgrading is supported directly from 8.8.x and 8.9.x. Of the top 1000 most used drupal.org projects, 94% are updated for Drupal 9, so the modules and themes you rely on are most likely compatible.

Drupal 7 site owners

Drupal 7 is supported until November 28, 2022, and will continue to receive bug and security fixes throughout this time. From November 2022 until at least November 2025, the Drupal 7 Vendor Extended Support program will be offered by vendors.

On the other hand, the migration path for Drupal 7 sites to Drupal 9 is stable. Read more about the migration to Drupal 9.

Translation, module, and theme contributors

Minor releases like Drupal 9.2.0 include backwards-compatible API additions for developers as well as new features.

Since minor releases are backwards-compatible, modules, themes, and translations that supported Drupal 9.1.x and earlier will be compatible with 9.2.x as well. However, the new version does include some changes to strings, user interfaces, internal APIs and API deprecations. This means that some small updates may be required for your translations, modules, and themes. Read the 9.2.0 release notes for a full list of changes that may affect your modules and themes.

This release has further advanced the Drupal project and represents the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and contributors from various organizations. Thank you to everyone who contributed to Drupal 9.2.0!

Jun 15 2021
Jun 15

Drupal 7 is nearing end of life (EOL) 

Drupal 7 will reach end-of-life (EOL) in November of 2022, which means that at least a half million webmasters & site owners have some decisions to make. What’s the next step for your organization’s website? What sorts of costs might you be looking at for this upgrade? What timeline can you plan on for this change? All good questions.

What is EOL and what does it mean to me?

The Drupal ecosystem of core and contributed modules is protected against hackers, data miners, automated exploits and other malicious actors by the Drupal Security Team — more than thirty developers working across three continents in almost a dozen countries to keep Drupal websites safe. The security team responds to reports of potential weaknesses in the Drupal core or contributed code and coordinates efforts to release new versions of the software that address those vulnerabilities.

The more than a million Drupal developers worldwide going about their day-to-day development tasks act as a passive network of quality control agents. Developers who discover security vulnerabilities while working with the code can confidentially report them so that the security team can go about fixing the problem before knowledge of the vulnerability is widely available. A million worldwide developers backing a thirty-something strong team of elite developers spells security — for your website, your data, and your organization.

In November of 2022, that all comes to an end for Drupal 7. That’s when the security team will officially retire from the Drupal 7 project in favor of modern versions of the platform. As new vulnerabilities in the code are discovered (and made public) you won’t have anyone in your corner to fight back with new security releases.

After EOL you can expect what’s left of the Drupal 7 community to move on, too. That means no new modules, new themes, or other new features built for the platform. It also means the pool of developers specializing in Drupal 7 starts to shrink very fast. If you’re still on Drupal 7 in late 2022, you’re out in the cold.

The good news is that there are options. Here are my top three picks:

Drupal 9: Drupal is dead, long live Drupal

Drupal 9 is the most modern iteration of the Drupal framework and CMS. It introduces a completely reimagined architecture and a rebuilt API more inline with modern development standards.

  • Cost: High
  • Build Time: High
  • Longevity: High
  • Support: High

Pros

Upgrading your site to the latest version of Drupal (9.1.10 at the time of this article) is, in most cases, the right move. Modern Drupal has grown to support a wide array of innovative features in core. Improved WYSIWYG content editing, a feature rich Media library, advanced publishing workflows, and rich JSON API are all available right out of the box. Couple that with Drupal’s new, highly modern architecture built on Symfony, the adoption of the Twig templating engine, and dependency management via Composer and you really do Build the best of the web in terms of technology, support, and longevity.

When you make the move to Drupal 9 you can count on Drupal’s huge and thriving community of developers (and security team) making the move right along with you. Existing modules from previous versions of Drupal are either — in almost all cases — already available, now packaged into core, or making their way to Drupal 9 at this moment. It’s very likely the agency you’re already working with has or is building a Drupal 9 proficiency, and it’s guaranteed that hundreds of other shops can pick up the slack in the odd case that your provider isn’t on board yet.

Finally, let’s not forget Drupal’s commitment to easy future upgrades which promises continuity in architecture that should facilitate easy upgrades to Drupal 10 and beyond. Gone are the days (probably) of “rebuild” style upgrades like those of Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, or Drupal 7 to Drupal 8/9.

Cons

Speaking of “rebuild” style upgrades... upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 is one of them. While it could be your last major upgrade if you stick with Drupal for the long haul, moving from Drupal 7 to the more modern 8/9 and beyond architecture is a very heavy lift. For most organizations the move to Drupal 9 is the longest term, most feature-rich, most supported, and most modern option, but it generally entails a complete rebuild of your site’s backend and theme which basically means starting from scratch. Take a look at Joel’s post about the upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 for more information — the process is comparable to a Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 upgrade.

Backdrop CMS: The same, but different

Backdrop CMS is a lightweight, flexible, and modernized platform built on Drupal 7 architecture with notable improvements. The software is a fork of the Drupal 7 code and boasts a simple, straightforward upgrade path.

  • Cost: Low / Medium
  • Build Time: Low / Medium
  • Longevity: Medium / High
  • Support: Medium

Pros

Drupal 7 sites moving to any other platform — including Drupal 8 / 9 — must be rebuilt. That’s not the case for Backdrop CMS, which gives you the option of protecting your investment in an existing Drupal 7 website and reaping the benefits of modern features like configuration management and advanced layout control. Backdrop CMS will prioritize backward compatibility with Drupal 7 until at least 2024, meaning that even fully custom Drupal 7 code — with very minor modifications — should work in the Backdrop CMS ecosystem. A large selection of widely used Drupal 7 modules are already available for Backdrop CMS, and more are on the way. And while backwards compatibility is a major selling point for Backdrop CMS, its architecture is forward thinking with the introduction of classed entities and an object-oriented approach to all of its new components and features.

While the Backdrop CMS developer community isn’t particularly large, Drupal 7 and Backdrop CMS development skill sets are virtually interchangeable for the time being due to the almost identical API. There’s also considerable overlap on the Drupal 8/9 front due to Backdrop’s preference for object-oriented code in all of its newly added features. That means your existing Drupal developers can help you make the switch, and while the upgrade process isn’t exactly seamless it’s definitely a far cry from a complete rebuild.

Backdrop CMS also has its own security team, which — for now at least — works closely with the Drupal security team. Active development for the current version of Backdrop CMS is planned through 2024 according to their Roadmap, with the next version of Backdrop CMS promising an even easier upgrade path compared to the Drupal 7 to Backdrop CMS upgrade.

Cons

Backdrop CMS implements both Drupal 7 style procedural coding and Drupal 8/9 style object-oriented coding, which in theory means that it caters to a wide range of developers. In practice it’s hard to predict the future of any up-and-coming development community. That makes the outlook for long term support a little opaque, in that it’s hard to say just how many developers will be supporting Backdrop CMS and building new features for it down the road a couple of years.

Also, while Backdrop CMS absolutely prioritizes backwards compatibility with Drupal 7, a greater number of contributed and custom modules in your existing site could complicate the upgrade process. Simpler Drupal 7 sites with fewer contributed and custom modules would probably encounter a low effort to complete the upgrade, while a greater number of contributed and custom modules are likely to see a medium effort as some of those modules may need to be converted.

Drupal 7 Vender Extended Support: Don’t move a muscle

Drupal 7 ES is the do nothing for now option. A small collection of approved and vetted vendors will be providing security updates and / or critical patches for Drupal 7 core and contributed modules following a variety of vendor-specific plans.

Note: I added some material to this article after publication regarding the points identified with asterisks*, based on feedback from an industry peer. Check it out at the bottom of the post.

  • Cost: Low
  • Build Time: None*
  • Longevity: Low / Medium
  • Support: Medium

Pros

The biggest plus here is simple: No further action is required at this time.* If you’re planning to work with a vendor that provides extended support for Drupal 7, you won’t need to take any action to protect your website from aging software until Drupal 7 EOL in 2022. At that point, you’ll need to plan on a flat or adjustable monthly fee through the end of 2025 — or possibly beyond. This could mean avoiding major financial decisions regarding your digital strategy for at least a few years, and all at a cost that (depending on the size of your organization / website) is probably a fraction of the cost of a software upgrade.

With the Drupal 7 EOL recently extended until November of 2022, many of these Vender Extended Support plans haven’t fully materialized — so details are still forthcoming. Agencies like Tag1Quo or MyDropWizard advertise services from a surprising $15 / month to $1250 / month for a range of beyond EOL Drupal support plans. Acquia and Lullabot are also named by Drupal.org as ES vendors — but without any specifics about pricing or support levels. While the picture isn’t entirely clear yet, availability of an affordable ES plan is virtually guaranteed by 2022.

Cons

Drupal 7 Vendor Extended Support may protect you against vulnerabilities and exploits discovered after Drupal 7 EOL, but community support will be all but dead by that time. That means no new features or modules will be released and the pool of Drupal 7 developers will be rapidly drying up. Unless you have an in-house development team, you can plan on your website coming to a standstill in terms of new features.

The amount of contributed and custom modules your site implements has an impact here, too. The greater number of custom and contributed modules, the greater you can expect the effort to be in supporting those modules beyond EOL.

Another concern with Drupal 7 ES is PHP 7 end-of-life. Once PHP 7 (the language Drupal 7 is largely built on) is no longer supported towards the end of 2022, you can expect the security of your Drupal 7 site to rapidly degrade. Updating Drupal 7 to be compliant with the newer, more secure PHP 8 is doable — but could be a difficult process.

Finally, it’s likely that you will still need to consider upgrading to a supported platform in the future if your website will need to change and adapt in the coming years. You can expect this process to become more challenging as time goes on and the gap between your existing website and modern platforms grows ever larger.

Taking the first step

There are other options, too. Moving from Drupal 7 to another platform entirely (WordPress?) could make the most sense depending on the complexities of your website. Moving to a less robust CMS could be nominally more cost effective than an upgrade to Drupal 9, but it also bakes in some hard limitations to what your website will be able to do.

A lot of organizations are beginning to evaluate options for their Drupal 7 sites. The best way forward depends largely on your goals as an organization, your ambitions for your digital presence, and the amount of time and effort you’re willing to invest. We’d love to consider your questions or learn more about the specific challenges you’re facing as you sort through your options. Get in touch today with your questions about upgrade paths from Drupal 7.

Additional notes for Drupal 7 Vender Extended Support, added June 22, 2021:
"Build time: None" is not strictly accurate - users who choose Drupal 7 ES will probably need to install an update status module to inform their chosen vendor of version data for their core and contributed modules. They will also need to adopt a new update strategy as their module updates will be coming from a new source (their chosen vendor). These steps won't need to be taken until we're closer to Drupal 7 EOL - perhaps the Spring or Summer of 2022.

"No further action required at this time" may be misleading. Action will be required as we approach Drupal 7 EOL in the Spring or Summer of 2022 - namely choosing an ES vendor and following their instructions.

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

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

Image 1 shows an example of a “Card”.

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

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

Table of Contents

Twitter Cards

There are four variations of Twitter cards. They are:

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

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

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

Getting Started

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

Use composer to download the module:

composer require drupal/metatag

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

Then enable the “Metatag: Twitter Card” submodule:

drush en metatag_twitter_cards -y

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

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

drush cr

Configure Twitter Cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fill in the following fields:

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

Find Image Field Token

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

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

The token should be [node:field_image].

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

Find Image Field Token on Media Asset

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

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

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

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

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

View HTML Source

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

Summary

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

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

FAQ

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

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

Editorial Team

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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 15 2021
Jun 15

We’re back with a recap of our favorite Drupal blog posts from last month. We hope you enjoy our selection for May!

Drupal 7 to 9 Migration Planning Guide

First off, we have a guide for planning Drupal 7 to 9 migrations shared by Anne Stefanyk of Kanopi Studios. With the end-of-life date for Drupal 8 in 2021, one year earlier than for Drupal 7, it makes the best sense for Drupal 7 site owners to skip Drupal 8 and migrate straight to 9.

Anne’s post includes a step-by-step planning and migration process, as well as some of the main considerations and challenges, such as making sure to have the website use the latest version of Drupal 7 to facilitate the migration, and taking into account the changes in certain practices in newer Drupal versions.

Read the whole migration planning guide

Write Better Code with Typed Entity

In the next post from May, Mateu Aguiló Bosch of Lullabot presents Typed Entity, a module that he built which can help you write cleaner, more maintainable code with fewer costs.

With Typed Entity, you create a plugin serving as a typed repository and containing the business logic rather than that of a specific entity. This can then be used to extend the class and create specific instances of the wrapped entities.

Mateu demonstrates this approach more in depth and shows examples of the module and how it works. He also includes a video version of the article for those who prefer watching.

Read more about Typed Entity

Streamlining Drupal Multisite Maintenance with Config

Next up, Byron Duvall and Bec White of Palantir.net show how to facilitate the maintenance of a Drupal multisite architecture with shared configuration rather than by using different install profiles. 

As opposed to the latter, shared configuration management is a much quicker and more straightforward process. It enables you to only make updates once (e.g. installing and setting up a module) and then rolls them out to all the sites with the shared config.

The set-up process as well as adding new sites and making updates are all simple as well; Byron and Bec also provide a step-by-step guide for each.

Read more about shared config management in Drupal

Migrating into Layout Builder

Moving on, we have a post by Chris Wells of Redfin Solutions recapping his session from the recent DrupalCon North America about migrating a Drupal 7 website to Drupal 8 with Layout Builder enabled on the new website.

The main challenge here was migrating the content which was created with WYSIWYG templates in Drupal 7 to pages created with the new paradigm of Layout Builder using overrides. For this, they used Drupal’s Migrate API.

Importing the blocks and nodes are both fairly straightforward parts of the migration; the key change is transforming the data into a format which can be read by Layout Builder, for which they use their custom process plugin.

Read more about migrating content to Drupal 8

Is Drupal Right for Universities?

Another enjoyable post from May was this next one by Mediacurrent which breaks down why Drupal is a top choice for higher education websites. Indeed, Drupal is particularly well suited to the digital needs of universities, with its high commitment to accessibility, multilingual capabilities, mobile optimizations and personalization features.

On top of that, Drupal also provides great multisite capabilities with easy and efficient management. It can help with brand visibility with its out-of-the-box SEO features, and its focus on security and privacy is now even more important with stricter privacy laws. It’s no wonder that over 70% of leading universities use Drupal to power their digital experiences.

Read more about Drupal in higher education

Books/ 31 Days of Drupal Migrations

We continue with David Rodríguez’s review of the book 31 Days of Drupal Migrations written by Mauricio Dinarte. The book is based on a series of Mauricio’s articles from a few years ago and is the most comprehensive resource for up-to-date information on the Drupal Migrate API.

David provides an overview of the book’s key information and its most important points. He highly recommends every development team should have a copy at their disposal; he has nothing but high praise for the book, in terms of both style and content usefulness, and gives it a 5 out of 5 in every category he looks at.

Read more about 31 Days of Drupal Migrations

Drupal 9: Setting Up Multilingual Content Views

Nearing the end of our selection for May, we have a blog post by Philip Norton on #! code explaining how to set up multilingual content views in Drupal 9. The issue with Views is that the wizard does not support multilingual content and this ends up creating lists of content with duplicated items.

As Philip shows, though, the solution is very straightforward. You need to first add the Default translation filter, then select a different rendering language, both of which can be done through the admin interface. This will also ensure that a content view will fall back to the original language if there’s no translation for it.

Read more about setting up multilingual content views in Drupal 9

Makers, takers and altruism

Topping off this month’s list, we have a post by Morpht’s co-founder and managing director Murray Woodman, who shares his thoughts and ideas regarding a recent post by Dries Buytaert on balancing makers and takers in open source.

Murray further elaborates on some of Dries’s key points with a simulation of “green beard altruism” by Justin Helps, which highlights the importance of encouraging altruistic behavior to ensure the sustainability of a project.

In the second part of the article, he explores how these lessons can be applied to the Drupal community, coming to the realization that we’re already taking a lot of the right steps, e.g. with the financial sponsorships of the Drupal Association and the contribution credit system.

Read more about altruism and sustainability in open source

Different hands holding up paper house

This concludes our recap for May. We hope you enjoyed (re)discovering the articles! 

Jun 14 2021
Jun 14

What are Layout Paragraphs?

According to their project page, Layout Paragraphs provides an intuitive drag-and-drop experience for building flexible layouts with paragraphs. Paragraphs are the preferred method of dealing with complex content structures inside of Drupal, and Layout Paragraphs are for dealing with complex layout structures in those paragraphs. 

Layout paragraphs are meant to help separate the content and structural needs of site builders and content editors. The concept of Layout paragraphs is not really a new idea. It builds upon a long history of layout systems including panels, display suite, blocks and panelizer, but utilizes more core API's like Entity API and Layout Builder API.

When using paragraphs in the past, extra paragraphs, or multiple versions of the same paragraphs, were needed in order to provide different layouts and styles for content creators. With a very plain editing experience, it could be very difficult for content creators to get an idea of how their page will look on the front end. Layout paragraphs are here to help simplify what content paragraphs are needed, and provide a better idea of what the page will look like when editing.

With some practice and refining of the steps below, it is possible to create and replicate a powerful layout and content system that your clients will love using. So let's get to it.

Setup steps

  1. Install modules and themes.
    • Modules required: 
    • Optional:
      • gin (recommended admin theme. Claro and some others work well too.)
      • gin_toolbar (recommended if using gin for your admin theme.)
  2. Setup the main settings for layouts and paragraphs.
    • Visit the "Layout Paragraph Labels" settings page - admin/config/content/layout_paragraphs/labels.
      • Select Show paragraph labels.
      • Deselect Show layout labels (I find this not needed, if layouts are easily distinguishable from each other).
  3. Setup a paragraph to use as the Layout source.

    This is known as a layout paragraph.

    • Call it Layout (or whatever helps you to know this is layout related) You can have multiple paragraphs that handle layouts (like one for large complex layouts and one for simple layouts inside of a layout), but best to keep simple.
    • In Behaviors, Set to Layout paragraph.
    • Select the layouts that you want to have available. You will have to come back to this as you create/update/delete layouts
      • Default core layouts are available.
      • Easy to create custom layouts using Core layout API.
    • No other fields are required on this paragraph, and nothing needed in the form display or display settings.
      • Text fields for headings and select fields with options for setting classes are things you can try to work in here, but really no other fields are needed.
  4. Setup some paragraph types that will be used in the layouts.

    These are known as content paragraphs. This part is up to you and your needs for the site.

    • Good recommendation for content paragraphs are just simple paragraphs. Some examples include:
      • One with just a WYSIWYG body field. 
      • One with an unlimited link field.
      • One for with an unlimited media field to post single images or multiple image slideshows.
  5. Setup a layout field on a content type of your choice.

    For this I prefer to keep it simple. I will have just the title field, the layout/content field, and then rename the body field to something like "teaser/summary" and set that up to only be used in teasers and meta tag descriptions.

    • Create a field of paragraph type. I usually call it field_content of field_paragraphs.
      • Set the field settings to Unlimited.
      • Include/exclude the paragraphs that you want available in your layouts. This is something you will probably have to come back to as you add new paragraph types to the site.
      • Must include the paragraph that is acting as the Layout paragraph.
    • Set the Form display.
      • Set Widget to Layout Paragraphs.
      • Set view mode to Preview. 
      • Set 0 nesting depth (prevent layouts in layouts. I like to keep it simple, but it will come down to your needs and desired user experience.).
      • Set require paragraphs to be added inside a layout (a layout must be chosen first before a content paragraph can be set).
    • Set the Display.
      • Set the label to Hidden.
      • Set to format to Layout paragraphs.
      • Set rendered as Default
  6. Place stuff in your new layouts.

    • Create a new page of the content type with your layout field.
    • When you hover over the field, an add icon will appear. Click on it and you will be able to add a layout type paragraph.
    • When you add a layout, a modal will popup where you can set the desired layout style as well as any other options that are available (this is based on what contrib you have installed or if you have any fields on your layout paragraphs).
    • Select a layout style, like One Column, and select accept.
    • You will see a "block" representing your new layout. Hover over and you will see an add icon appear at the top and bottom of the area.
    • Click on one of those icons, and you will have the option to set one of the Content paragraphs you've made available. 
    • The paragraph fields will display in a popup. Add your content accordingly and press accept.
    • Repeat with a couple more content paragraphs.
    • Make sure to add the node title, and press save.
    • Review your new node. Things may look slightly off (or wildly off). It's based on how the CSS is working in your theme. But rest assured, all the pieces of the puzzle are in place for you to work your magic.

You can change the layout and move content around.

Conclusion

Many of these steps are customizable based on your needs and your Drupal development skills. I've used select fields and view mode selection fields inside of the layout paragraphs and content paragraphs to allow content creators to get creative and apply different prebuilt styles. I've played around with preprocessing, twig templates, and extra fields to build complex displays, but still allowed for a simple user interface. The possibilities are up to you.

Jun 14 2021
Jun 14

I'm a fan of configuring things for display through Drupal's admin UI. It gives site builders confidence and power. What if you want to place blocks or views listings in amongst fields on pages of content? For example, to display:

  • A listing (view) of related content, such as accessories for a product
  • A standard contact block, advert, or some other calls to action in the middle of the content, exactly where the user is best 'caught' in their journey, rather than having to stick those in sidebars or after all the content fields.
  • Some specific value(s) pulled from fields on some indirectly related entity, through a token, such as details from a taxonomy term representing the 'section' that a page is in.
  • Consistent relevant links on user profiles to take people to common destinations

Drupal's usual blocks system allows you to put these in sidebars or above/below the usual node fields, but not between them. You could use a 'heavyweight' system like Layout Builder, Panels, or Display Suite, but those tend to entirely change the way you configure or edit your content. You could get a developer to override twig templates or write custom PHP. But is there a middle ground?

Well, of course! You might have noticed some modules already allow their page additions to be moved around amongst the usual fields on content. See these rows without widget or format settings in this following screenshot, which aren't for ordinary fields at all? Wouldn't it be great to be able to add your own?

Profile display settings with 'extra fields' highlighted

This is where the Entity Extra Field module (entity_extra_field) comes in. It supports embedding blocks, views or values to be replaced via tokens. So a site builder can set these up to be managed just like ordinary fields on the page (whether it's a node, term, paragraph, or any other type of content). Each one would act as a sort of 'pseudo-field', rendered as part of a display mode amongst the ordinary fields. It also works for form modes - so you can display useful content beside existing field widgets, perhaps displaying relevant related data to editors in the places that they would be entering content about that data.

Entity Extra Field supports visibility conditions (just like blocks, but for views & tokens too) and passing & selecting contexts for blocks. These give it quite a lot of power - for example, to conditionally hide a field rather than just using Drupal's ordinary display settings for it. So I believe this module does a better job than the older EVA module (for views), and my own similar EBA module (for blocks) did. In fact, I recommend that anyone using my EBA module in D7 should use Entity Extra Field in its place when moving to Drupal 9. Here are some screenshots of its interface - first for selecting a view to add to content:

Entity extra field administrative interface for selecting a view to add to an entity display.

And for choosing a block to display - in this case, a custom one that requires a context:

Entity extra field administrative interface for selecting a context-aware block to add to an entity display.

Each 'Extra field' gets shown on all entities of the type/bundle they are configured on. So there's no need to constantly remember to add a common block or view every time you create/edit a page. If you do want to have different ones on different pages, then you should use Views Reference or Block Field. These modules provide true fields for editors to choose which view/block to display on each individual page.

The code inside Entity Extra Field uses hook_entity_extra_field_info(), which acts just like its Drupal 7 predecessor, hook_field_extra_fields(), which I've written about before. So you could write code using that to add your own page additions too - but given that blocks, views, and content accessible via tokens are possibly the most common things to embed, that suddenly feels unnecessary. Even as a developer, I'm glad to avoid writing code that would need maintaining anyway.

I've been privileged to be able to contribute fixes & functionality to the Entity Extra Field project, resulting in a recent new release. My time for that was essentially sponsored by ComputerMinds and one of our clients who would use this site-building capability, especially around block contexts. So thanks to them! And of course a big thank you goes to Travis Tomka (droath) for making the module, and accepting my many issues & patches!

Photo by Y. Peyankov on Unsplash

Jun 11 2021
Jun 11

After quite some Google searching I found some answers that came close, but nothing that worked straight away. So to prevent you from puzzling and searching, here is how to get the image field url from a referenced node in a Twig node template

Use this code for example in node--blog--teaser.html.twig :

{{ node.field_REFERENCE.entity.field_IMAGE.entity.alt.value }}

Replace 'field_REFERENCE' with your node reference field system name, and replace 'field_IMAGE'  with the system name of your image field.

And by the way: more on Twig file naming conventions in Drupal here.

Drupal theming Planet Drupal Written by Joris Snoek | Nov 06, 2021

Join the conversation

Jun 11 2021
Jun 11

Drupal 8 Made Everything Better

From the beginning of Drupal 8, everything in the lifecycle just got better - including moving to Drupal 9 and beyond.

Design and research have not really changed, but once you begin to build, you start to see the changes. Drupal 8 and 9 are far more feature-complete, requiring far fewer contributed modules. With an elegant configuration management system built-in, it is straightforward to keep all settings in version control.

Beginning with Drupal 8, there is now a planned and continuous improvement release cycle for new versions of Drupal. This means that new features don’t have to wait for a full new major release: instead, they are incrementally included in new software releases every 6 months.

From a typical release page, they say “This minor release provides new improvements and functionality without breaking backward compatibility for public APIs”. Some examples of new functionality which have come online through this process include, media handling, content workflow, layout builder, to name but three.

As before, minor upgrades are straightforward, but the most significant change is that major upgrades no longer require a complete rebuild of your site. As only deprecated APIs are removed in each major upgrade, upgrades can now be completed in a fraction of the time. In fact, most are completed in a matter of days, and not months as before, and usually with only minimal effort on the part of the site owner.

A site redesign can also be performed at a time dictated by business needs, and does not need to be coordinated with a 3rd party release cycle. 

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. 

Jun 10 2021
Jun 10

When you're working on your Drupal SEO, the Meta tags module is important to your site because it tells the search engines what the content you have is all about. That is right, it's pretty much data about data. And while this seems redundant, it is incredibly important for the overall optimization of your site.

A controversy occurred during the dawn of the search engines (circa 1997) when many people abused meta tags by stuffing them full of keywords. While they were invisible to visitors, search engines gave a lot of credence to the meta tags, so it was a viable way to get to the top of the search engines.

These days, search engines use metatags less for rankings and more for determining what your website and pages are about and which keywords they best fit. Making sure these tags clearly state what your site and pages provide to a visitor will go a long way to ranking in the search engines.

There are also specialized tags that can help with local SEO and provide information that can get your products listed in the Shopping sections of the search engines, which is always helpful.

To get step-by-step instructions on how to make sure your Drupal website's metatags are properly set up, download our free Metatag module guide available within our Drupal SEO Guide section.

***

If your website has specific needs (e-commerce, local, etc.),
feel free to sign up for a free no-obligation consultation
to see if Volacci can help you with any SEO problem you might have.

Jun 10 2021
Jun 10

As a company that believes that the best outcomes are achieved when people are able to create and collaborate in open, diverse, and inclusive environments, we’ve spent the last few years strengthening Palantir’s commitment to being an equitable and just organization. We have evolved our compensation, performance, and reporting structures in an attempt to proactively identify and remove systemic barriers to equality, becoming less hierarchical and more agile. To date, these efforts have included:

  • Establishing an equitable compensation structure with defined salary levels that provide equal pay for equal responsibilities.
  • Instead of reporting to a manager, each person now has a P.O.D. (Professional and Organizational Development) team that provides facilitation and coaching in performance, growth, and development.
  • Creating a career grid that’s supported with a role-based structure that demonstrates what opportunities exist for advancement and articulates the skills and expectations for each level so that individuals and P.O.D.s are orienting learning and growth conversations around a standard for promotions and opportunities.

We know, based on our experience with the Drupal open source community, that diverse teams drive innovation and improve quality. As Drupal’s Values and Principles state, “the people who work on the Drupal project should reflect the diversity of people who use and work with the software.” We agree. And while Palantir is already one of the more diverse and representative teams in our industry, we are not yet where we want to be. We are committed to doing the work necessary to build a team that incorporates diverse experiences and strengths where everyone can bring their best selves to their work and make space for others to do so as well.  

Ironically, the tumultuous pandemic year brought tremendous stability to the Palantir team itself. Our internal commitment (which we nicknamed CODENAME Armadillo) ensured that there were no layoffs or salary reductions in 2020, which gave us individually and collectively the space to focus on what we needed to be healthy. We invested in our existing team’s ability to build the resolve and resilience we would need to reimagine and redesign what we wanted our next normal to be. 

Now as we re-emerge, we have begun adding to the Palantir team, allowing us to examine what has and hasn’t worked for us in our hiring process. Adding several positions in succession has given us the chance to experiment with this process as we seek to redesign a more effective, equitable and agile process. 

The Challenges: 

  • Workplace inequality often has its roots in hiring processes that prioritize privilege and connections over potential. Qualified candidates can be passed over if they don’t fit into patterns of what the company or those in a position to hire might have seen work previously.
    How might we create opportunities for truly interested candidates to demonstrate how they would be “culture adds”, rather than just looking for “culture fits”? 
  • In the past, Palantir’s hiring process was most successful if a candidate was already familiar with the company (and was even better if the candidate knew one of us well).  
    How might we create a scalable, equitable environment that allows everyone to experience the advantages of insider access to a Palantiri?
  • Palantir’s hiring process could be long, with three rounds of interviews (screener, team and CEO) all conducted by in-house team members with other primary responsibilities. That long duration created an unintentional slant toward those who already had jobs (as those who didn’t often took other positions while our process was still unfolding). 
    How might we accelerate the process, without compromising our ability to manage hiring in-house and involve the team?

Thinking about these questions, we have spent the last few months conducting a series of experiments designed to reduce bias in our hiring process. Here are some of the approaches we have found most successful in addressing the questions above in the initial gates of the process: the application and the initial screening conversation.

Anonymous Applications

Our efforts begin with the application stage. Our job postings include a salary range and are reviewed for gendered or biased language. When we receive resumes and cover letters, a team member who isn’t involved in the hiring decision anonymizes them, removing names, addresses, and education information that shouldn’t influence our hiring decisions. (There is software that will do this automatically for larger firms, but it doesn’t seem available to small firms and our HRIS system doesn’t yet offer this feature.)

Knowing that our process (and indeed our company!) works a little different and can ask a lot of our applications, we want to make sure that we’re making the process informative and valuable for them as well. To that end, we host a webinar that candidates can attend or submit questions for and watch afterward, if they cannot attend. During this webinar, they have the opportunity to learn more about Palantir and the position and may anonymously ask questions. Our hope is that this is a very safe and welcoming environment where they can begin to see what it might be like to work at Palantir.

A Conversation, not a Challenge

After the webinar, if a candidate chooses to continue pursuing the open position and Palantir chooses to invite them, they are invited to a video interview with our Employee Experience Manager and another team member. Prior to that interview, candidates are asked to share something that demonstrates a required skill for the position. 

For technical positions, they are provided with some sample code from a variety of languages and frameworks. The code samples we use are drawn from public code repositories and aren’t written by one of our team members. 

During the technical interview, the candidates are asked to choose one of the code samples and share any observations, experiences, or thoughts they may have about it. Unlike in a coding challenge, we don’t ask candidates to author code on a whiteboard, and there are no planted bugs or tricky logic to uncover in the samples we provide. The questions are scripted in advance and asked in the same order and same way for each candidate. 

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate the candidate's ability to abstract from the code level to talk about functionality, purpose, and risks. As consultants, we often need to talk about our work with both technical and non-technical audiences. 

For non-engineering candidates, we ask that they record a presentation on a topic about which they are knowledgeable and passionate, or that the candidate write, draw, or record a video about which Palantir value resonates for them. As we continue to hire people for additional roles, we will find ways for them to demonstrate their unique skills and point-of-view. 

During the first interview, the candidate can also ask questions and learn more about Palantir. If the candidate and Palantir both choose to move forward, the next interview is a team interview, followed by an interview with one of our CEOs prior to an offer being made. (Those interviews are largely unchanged from the previous hiring process.)

Preliminary Results

Our focus in this round of iteration has been on those candidate gating decision points where we are able to leverage antiracist, bias interruption research. As we engage in this process, we solicit feedback from the candidates about their experience and monitor the data at each stage (how many applications advance, are dropped or self-select out at each stage, etc.). Following each hiring cycle, we get together as a team to reflect on what we’ve learned and what experiments we might try in the next hiring cycle. 

So far, we have increased the number of applicants who were previously unknown to us (and vice versa). At each stage in the process, we have ended up with just about the expected number of candidates and overall candidate quality has been very high. The feedback we’ve received is that it is certainly an unusual process, but one that gives applicants (especially those unfamiliar with Palantir) a much better sense of us and our culture. 

Image "Scrabble - Resume" by Flazingo Photos licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Jun 09 2021
Jun 09

expert metatag module install and config

https://www.drupal.org/project/metatag

Credits & Thanks

Thank you to:

About the Metatag module

The Metatag module allows you to set up Drupal to dynamically provide title tags and structured metadata, aka meta tags, on each page of your site.

what metatags look like in web code

Giving you control over your HTML title tag is the most important thing that the Metatag module does for SEO. That all-important tag is critical to your search engine ranking.

Note: It may be confusing that the Title Tag functionality resides within the Metatag module, but it makes sense from a technical standpoint. Both the HTML title tag and meta tags are placed in the header of a web page. By handling them both in the Metatag module, it requires less code and enables (slightly) faster rendering of your web pages.

Besides handling the title tag, the Metatag module programmatically creates meta tags for your website. Meta tags are snippets of text that tell a search engine about your pages. Meta tags help your SEO by communicating clearly to the search engine and social networks what each page on your website is about and how you want them to describe it in the search results. If you don’t do this, you will have to rely on the search engines to identify and classify your content. While they’re kind of good at this, it’s important enough that you don’t want to leave it to chance.

Global metatag suggestion screenshot

Because the Metatag module is so important, and there are many nuances to configuration, the documentation on this module is rather extensive. For this reason, we have created a free download that you can use to follow along to install, enable, and configure with the same base settings Volacci uses for all our clients.

Fill out the form below, and we'll send your copy right away!

Need help with your Drupal SEO?
Contact Volacci and we'll set up a no-obligation consultation.

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