Today, there are a bazillion options available for us to choose from, be it restaurants, clothing brands, gadgets or software. We, as users, may have difficulty in choosing the best, but never in finding the options. The options may confuse us, but we are going to be bombarded with them nonetheless.
This brings me to the question of choosing the right option amongst the lot; how is it selected? For me, one of the most important criteria is usability, if I am not able to understand the usage of a product, I’d rather choose the next one. I am sure usability must be an important factor in your decision as well.
Now, coming onto the product that I would be talking about today, Drupal. It is one of the most renowned open source content management systems out there. If you are reading this blog, you would definitely be aware of Drupal and all of its brilliance. Despite its eminence and versatility, it is still marred by a slightly unjustified rumour based on its use. Yes, as the title suggests, Drupal is often considered difficult to use and as a result many shy away from using it.
Today, we will try to understand all the aspects of Drupal that could account for this claim and see if it is really true. Can a software that is meant to be free for anyone to use be so difficult that it become inaccessible to a major lot of its audience? What would be the point of it then? You think about that while I begin with the individual of Drupal’s so-called complexities.A Glimpse at Drupal’s Market Share
Drupal is one of the leading CMSs in the market. Its ability to build powerful web experiences is the paramount reason for the same. So before I get into the nitty gritty details of Drupal's ease of use, I wanted to highlight its popularity.Source: BuiltWithSource: Drupal.org
These numbers clearly show that Drupal is being used by a considerable number of sites worldwide with as many as a million Drupal sites operational at one time. This proves the answer to the question ‘Is Drupal in demand’ is going to be an affirmative.Source: W3Tech
Is Drupal still relevant? I’d say it is primarily because it isn’t just the numbers that make Drupal impressive, but its performance as well. The above images depicts Drupal’s competency at handling high-traffic sites. Drupal is a software for which millions of visitors aren't daunting as proven by its clientele.Source: Drupal.org
Moreover, in a survey to understand 2021’s business outlook, Drupal found out that the majority of its users felt that the new year would mark a growth in their prospects. With Drupal’s presence in a wide range of industries, the profitability of the CMS is impressive too. Sectors like education, charities and nonprofits, government, IT and even media have experienced more profits with Drupal as per the findings of Drupal Business Survey 2020.
Drupal has proven its worth in every aspect, be it the number or the performance. The only thing that mars its impeccable record is that it is difficult to use, which isn’t technically the case. I’ll start answering the why with the next section.Let’s move on to the programming language
PHP or Hypertext Preprocessor is the programming language Drupal is built on. And PHP is a language that is often considered to be part of its complexity. I would say that it is not accurate.
PHP is one of the best programming languages and has landed itself in the top 10 best languages to learn in 2021 by many surveys; Simplilearn and Hackr.io are two of these reports. With that kind of efficacy, the language cannot be considered to be problematic.
Further proof of PHP’s popularity is in the number of websites and applications that use it, which isn’t a lowly figure. Look at the graph below for proof.Source: W3techs
And these reports and figures aren’t antiquated, rather are as new as the year itself. So, PHP must be a worthwhile language, even if it isn’t the easiest of them all.
However, PHP isn’t the only language Drupal works with. It has other dependencies as well. These include;
jQuery and jQuery UI.
All of these only mean that Drupal is versatile, it isn’t a software with one side. Its multifaceted programming aspects only add to its appeal. It may seem like a lot at first, but it is necessary and doesn’t add up to Drupal’s difficulties, rather it eases the task of web development.Moving on to the beginner’s conundrum
When we start something, more often than not, we feel overwhelmed with it. Since we are not accustomed to the newness and it’s nuances, that is understandable. And Drupal ensures that it takes into consideration the novice developers.
Until Drupal 8, beginners have reported difficulties with the installation and evaluation of Drupal. But after the release of the eighth version, things are more streamlined with the beginner’s needs and expertise.
Drupal has also brought on new themes to make its experience more flattering for the beginners. For example:
All three themes have made Drupal more accessible, responsive and simple for its users, if we are to rely on user feedback. If I talk about Olivero specifically, it is the new beta experimental frontend theme, which is both modern and concise, and will take over Bartik as Drupal default theme. Its simplicity and professional look make it a perfect pair for beginners.
With Drupal 9, there isn’t much that has changed. If you are comfortable with Drupal 8, you would be able to ease into the 9th version with a breeze. Although there are indeed differences between Drupal 8 and 9, these are not as stark and have made development not seem like a daunting task.
And there is more.The Drupal Community, always helping out!
Drupal has a community of over 1 million people and 100,000+ stories to tell. From putting your skills at work to acquiring new skills to work, the Drupal community is known for upliftment of the software and the people using it.
Any questions a beginner may have will be rightfully answered. You can easily find mentors, who are Drupal veterans and will gleefully help you become an expert like them. You can practise, practise and practise some more to get to the level you want to be at. Being part of the Drupal community, you will be able to hone your skills unlike anywhere else.
You would not feel like an outsider, meet people with similar interests and similar geography as you at Drupal Groups. Since the best way to learn Drupal or anything really is to be immersed in it, the Drupal community is just the place for learning and mastering.
And, there is a constant endeavour to help underrepresented groups from the Drupal Community. Diversity, inclusion and equity is at the heart of the community.
So, there isn’t much room for the beginner’s conundrum at Drupal.Then there are the notorious Drupal upgrades
Upgrades are necessary, but they don’t necessarily have to be an insurmountable task, which frankly speaking was the case for Drupal. Upgrading till Drupal 8 could not be described as being easy and quick. They required a lot of work and it was difficult, as there were major fundamental changes in the software. However, there was no other way to go about it. If you wanted the added functionality and support that new version would have, upgrading was the only choice.
However, that isn’t the case now and thank goodness for that.
With the launch of Drupal 9, upgrades have become less notorious and more accommodating. The Drupal 9 switch has been deemed as the easiest upgrade of the decade and that is saying something. This is because unlike previous upgrades, Drupal 9 does not change the entire CMS on a fundamental level, there is no reinvention, but it is still unique. It is a new and improved version of Drupal 8, with deprecated APIs and updated dependencies.
Here is an illustration that will help you understand what I have been saying about fundamental changes.Source: Drupal.org
With a four step process, you can make your Drupal 8 sites ready and waiting to be upgraded into Drupal 9, if that is difficult, I wonder which adjective would be appropriate for the previous ones. You can also directly upgrade from Drupal 7, if you wish to. Access this complete guide to Drupal 9 to know everything about Drupal 9 upgrade and migration.
Yes, Drupal upgrades were difficult, but they aren’t now. So, does this fact make this pointer for Drupal moot? I think it does.Coming on to the workflow
For content management systems, content is the integral. The way it is created and managed essentially decides whether the life of developers and content creators is going to be easy or not. If you are using Drupal correctly, I can assure you life is going to be a breeze.
I say this because in terms of editorial workflow, Drupal has a lot to offer and not much is complicated, with structured tools equipped to define the same.
Here is an overview of some of them.
Workspaces is one tool that helps in defining the staging environments, previewing content changes, all the while deploying these to a live environment.
Transitions is another tool that makes it easy to control content States, which have their own attributes. It allows state changes to become restricted by roles and permissions along with allowing users what content to be put through them.
Then, there is the eminent Views module. This is one unique to Drupal and its highlighting feature in terms of content. It gives the power of creating, managing and displaying lists of content to administrators and site designers. It is these lists that are called views, while what the portray in the form of blocks or pages is the display, it can be one or many.Source: Drupal.org
One of Drupal’s most fulfilling editorial tools is the Layout Builder. It allows editors to create a publishing piece that is more than flexible to their needs. Any kind of layout is possible with this module.
All of these support the editorial needs of the many content authors who will be populating a platform and the better part is they would not need the guidance of the developers every of the way or any at all.
As times change, the things that satiated our needs no longer do so. The same is true for CMSs. Looking back, it is evident that site builders and developers were quite satisfied with nestling an entire project inside one CMS, which would have acted as the provider of the frontend and the backend needs. However, with the advent of multitudinous frontend technologies, that satiation is no longer achievable.
Hence, the new-age of CMSs emerged, which is essentially without a head, that is the presentation. Unlike the monolithic architecture, the headless approach separates the frontend development from the backend, making the developers happy by leveraging other technologies.
Drupal is a pro at the headless approach. Its monolithic architecture is also used by sites with simpler needs, however, it does give them the option to decouple or go headless, if they wanted to.
- You could choose to decouple partially, this would be the progressively decoupled approach;
Drupal’s work isn’t finished yet, it also provides robust APIs to streamline the connection between the presentation and the content layer. Built on the API-first approach, Drupal offers all of its application functions as APIs. This is done through its web services including RESTful web services and JSON:API along with API extensions with GraphQL.
Drupal can create its own flexible and structured presentation layer, there isn’t a doubt in it. Regardless of this, when it is decoupled, it performs with equal efficiency to create API endpoints, which basically make room for content consumption and display in the headless application.
And this new-age of CMSs is gaining ground each day, and Drupal, with its own web services at play, is making the transition quite easy.Fusion with Emerging technologies
I mentioned in the previous section that with time things change and so does their to us. Today, technology is a major part of that change. I remember a time not long ago, when a single camera setup on our smartphones was enough for us. Now, my phone has three, still I envy my husband, whose smartphone has a quad camera setup. Who could have imagined that?
The same is true for CMSs, when we look at them, we don’t just want a simple site building tool. We want innovations, enhancements and upgrades that will stun us in the most positive way. And CMSs have started providing that.
Taking Drupal into focus, it has had a revolutionary impact on the market by integrating itself with futuristic technologies.
- The use of artificial intelligence, with chatbots, voice assistants or cognitive search;
- The use augmented reality, which enhances the user experience by letting them know what would be favourable for them;
- The use of virtual reality, which makes the cross-channel experiences seem alive, as used by Massachusetts State University;
- The use of Internet of Things transcending from sensors to smartphones and wearables;
- The use of Blockchain to record financial transactions and other valuable information.
Drupal has proven to be both reliable and reaching in its fusion with emerging technologies and that has led to an improved digital experience, both for the developers and the users. Read our blog Unleashing macro trends in technology with Drupal to find more about this topic.It all comes down to continuous improvement in focus Reasons for people choosing Drupal. Source: Drupal Business Survey 2020
The most common reason for people using Drupal is because they have already used it and because of that familiarity, it becomes easy to use. However, ease of use is not amongst the top reasons for taking up Drupal.
Probably that is why, when Drupal 10’s 2022 release was announced during DrupalCon Global in 2020 by Dries Buytaert, its ease-of-use was addressed as one of the most impactful aspects. And Drupal 10’s development is proof of that.
In Dries speech, he emphasised the ease of use quite a lot. He talked about five crucial steps that were taken to simplify Drupal even more.
- Improving third party components even after their EOL to enhance Drupal 10 readiness;
- Improving Drupal’s ease-of-use further, Drupal 9 was a great step in this direction;
- Improving frontend themes;
- Improving updates by making them automates, this would work best for security upgrades;
For all of these, the efforts are being made by the entire community.
Yes, it would be faster, better and more innovative, but it would not be difficult. Like I mentioned before in this blog, we should not expect many overhauls to the software that would make our eyes pop and heads hurt.
There are going to be improvements, there would at least by four versions of Drupal 9 before the arrival of 10. However, this continuity in advancements does not have to affect the way Drupal is seen by its users. It needn’t be the forbidden fruit that everybody wants to taste, but scared to do so. Drupal is an open source software, it is meant for everyone and that means it isn't too difficult. I wouldn’t deny that wasn’t complex at one point, but that point of time is long gone. What lies in the future is a version of Drupal that is as easy to use for a beginner as it is for an expert developer.The Bottom Line
I’d like to answer the question ‘How hard is it to use Drupal?’ with a direct from one of our developers.
“Being from a technical background and having PHP development experience before diving into Drupal gives me an upper edge during the journey. Being into Drupal development for around 3 years, I can say it’s all about learning the architecture of Drupal (such as entities, configs and forms) and how the code executes (sequence of functions calls). The earlier you understand these, the easier the Drupal journey would be for you and it would help you to debug faster and select the best approach for the requirements. Plus having a great community and open contribution platform helps you learn better and faster. Drupal is like a Lego, you can build it to your liking but, at a certain point of customisation, it is like a box with thousands of pieces and not all of them fit together.” - Anmol Goel, Senior Software developer at OpenSense Labs
For Anmol, Drupal experience made the journey easier. It requires you to get a hang of things, once you do that, there isn’t much that you’d find difficult, and your Drupal development experience would be a walk in the park; at least most of the time. And like he put it so eloquently, who could find a game of Lego difficult? All it is about is building something new every time, be it today or tomorrow and that’s Drupal for you.blog banner blog image Drupal 9 Drupal 10 Drupal Upgrades Monolithic Drupal Architecture Decoupled Drupal Architecture Drupal Community Blog Type Articles Is it a good read ? On
The “Long text and summary” field has a formatter called “Summary or trimmed”. This formatter allows you to trim text to a specified set length which is important if you’re displaying a list of articles. The last thing you want is to have an article display 1000 words on the homepage.
However, this default “Summary or trimmed” formatter cannot trim the summary. If the author enters in lots of text into the summary it’ll display everything.
The Smart Trim module offers a field formatter for trimming text fields. Additional settings are available more than the default “Summary or trimmed” option – an improvement over the default formatter.
Smart Trim can also apply to Text (Plain) and Text (Plain, Long) fields which, by default, do not have the “Trimmed” option available.
In our ongoing series of Tag1 Team Talks commemorating the 20th anniversary of Drupal, Tag1 Senior Architect and long-time Drupal contributor Nat Catchpole joins Managing Director Michael Meyers to talk about Catch’s time in the Drupal community. Catch has nearly 8500 commits in his 15 years working with Drupal. He’s worked on a wide variety of modules, as well as holding the dual positions of Drupal Core Release Manager and the Framework Manager. His focus on performance and scalability has helped build Drupal into what it is today. For a transcript of this video, see Transcript: 20 years of Drupal - Nat Catchpole. ### Related content In the coming weeks, Tag1 will be featuring Team Talks with some of its long time Drupal contributors. Check back here, or follow the blog to see these interviews as they become available: - Jeremy Andrews - Doug Green - Fabian Franz - Narayan Newton - Francesco Placella - Greg Lund-Chaix - Marco Molinari - Michael Meyers - Moshe Weitzman - Nat Catchpole ----------- Photo by Daniel Olah on UnsplashRead more lynette@tag1co… Mon, 03/01/2021 - 12:36
Part of contributing to any open source project, or even really being a contributing member of any community, is sharing what you know. That can come in many forms. While many projects over emphasis code, and most of us understand the value of conference talks, good how-to articles are some of the most critical contributions for any software platform. There isn’t much point to a tool if people cannot figure out how to use it.Why do I write how-to articles
I’ve contributed code to Drupal, some of it even good and useful to others. But usually when I hear someone noticed something I created it’s blog posts about how to solve a problem.
When I struggled to find the answer to a question I expect it is a candidate for a how-to post. I am not so creative that I am often solving a problem no one has, or will want to, solve for another project. And I am good enough at what I do to know that if I struggled to find an answer it was probably harder to find than it could been.
That helps me find topics for articles that are helpful to the community and benefit me.How-to articles help others in the community use tools better
The goal of a good tutorial is to help accelerate another person’s learning process. The solution does not have to be perfect, and I know most people will have to adapt the answer to their project. I write them when I struggled to find a complete answer in one place, and so I’m hoping to provide one place that gives the reader enough to succeed.
Usually I combine practical experience earned after digging through several references at various levels of technical detail – including things like other people’s blog posts, API documentation, and even slogging through other people’s code. I then write one, hopefully coherent, reference to save others that digging extra reading.
The less time people spend researching how to do something, the more time they have to do interesting work. Better yet, it can mean more time using the tools for their actual purpose.How-to articles serve as documentation for me, colleagues, and even clients
The best articles serve as high level documentation I can refer back to later to help me repeat a solution instead of recreating it from scratch. When I first wrote how-to articles I was solidifying my own learning, and leaving a trail for later.
They also came to serve as documentation for colleagues. When I don’t have time to sit with them to talk through a solution, or know the person prefers reading, I can provide the link to get them off and running. Colleagues have given me feedback about clarity, typos, and errors to help me improve the writing.
I have even sent posts to clients to help explain how some part of their solution was, or will be, implemented. That additional documentation of their project can help them extend and maintain their own projects.How-To articles give me practice explaining things
One of the reasons I started blogging in the first place was to keep my writing skills sharpened. How-to articles in-particular tend to be good at helping me refine my process in specific areas. The mere act of writing them gives me practice at explaining technology and that practice pays off in trainings and future articles. If you compare my work on Drupal, Salesforce, and Electron you can see the clarity improve with experience.How-To articles give me work samples to share
When I’ve been in job applicant mode those articles give me material to share with prospective employers. In addition to Github and Drupal.org, the how-to articles can help a hiring manager understand how I work. They show how explain things to others, how I engage in the community, and serve as samples of my writing.How-To articles help me control my public reputation
I maintain a blog, in part, to help make sure that I have control over my public reputation. To do that I need inbound links the help maintain page rank and other similar basic SEO games.
From traffic statistics I know the most popular pages on this site are technical how-to articles. From personal anecdotes I know a few of my articles have become canonical descriptions of how to solve the problems.
When I first started my current job we had a client ask if I could implement a specific feature that he’d read about in a post on Planet Drupal. It turned out to be mine. Not only was I happy to agree to his request, it helped him trust our advice. My new colleagues better understood what this Drupal guy brought to the Salesforce team. Besides let’s be honest it’s fun when people cite your own work back at you.Writing your own
You don’t have to maintain a whole blog to write useful how-to articles. Drupal, like most large open source projects, maintains public wiki-style documentation. Github pages allow anyone to freely publish simple articles and there are many examples of single-page articles out there. And of course there is no shortage of dedicated how-to sites that will also accept content.
The actual writing process isn’t that hard, but often people leave out steps, so I’ll share my process. This is similar to my general advice for writing instructions.Pick your audience
It’ll be used more widely than whoever you think of, but have an audience in mind. Use that to help target a skill set. I often like to think of myself before I started whatever project inspired the article. The higher your skill set the more you should adjust down, but it’s hard to adjust too far, so be careful is aiming for people with far less experience than you have – make sure you have a reviewer with less experience check your work. Me − 1 is fine, Me − 5 is really hard to do well.Start from the beginning and go carefully step by step
Start with no code, no setup, nothing. Then walk forward through the project one step at a time writing out each step. If you gloss over a detail because you assume your audience knows about it add reference links. You can have a copy of a reference project open but do not use it directly; it’s there to prevent you from having to re-research everything.List your assumptions as you go
Anything that you need to have in place but don’t want to describe (like installing Drupal into a local environment, creating a basic module, installing Node, etc) state as an explicit assumption so your reader starts in the same place as you do. Provide links for any assumptions which are likely hard for your expected audience to complete. This is your first check point – if there are no good references to share, start from where that article you cannot find should start (or consider writing that article too).Provide detailed examples
Insert code samples, screenshots, or short videos as you progress. Depending on what you are doing in your article the exact details of what works best will vary. Copy and paste as little reference code as possible. This helps you avoid accidentally copying details that may be revealing of a specific project’s details.
If you look at mine you’ll see a lot of places where I include comments in sample code that say things like “Do useful stuff”. That is usually a hint that whoever inspired the article had interesting, and perhaps proprietary, ideas in that section of code (or at least I worried they would think it was interesting). I also try to add quick little asides in the code samples to help people pay attention.Test as you go
Make sure your directions work without that reference project you’re not sharing. This is both so your directions work properly and further insulation against accidentally sharing information you ought not share.End with a full example
If you end up with a bunch of code that you’ve introduced piecemeal, provide a complete project repo or gist at the end. You’ll see some of my articles end in all the code being displayed from a gist, and others link to a full repository. Far too many people simply copy and paste code from samples and then either use it blindly or get stuck. Moving it to the end helps get people to at least scan the actual directions along the way.Give credit where credit is due
If you found partial answers in several places during your initial work, thank those people with links to their articles. Everyone who publishes online likes a little link-love and if the article was helpful to you it may be helpful to others. Give them a slight boost.
Tag1's 20 years of Drupal series continues with an interview with Senior Architect Francesco Placella. Francesco has had a Drupal.org account for over thirteen years and in that time has made his own significant contributions.Read more lynette@tag1co… Fri, 02/26/2021 - 11:52
It's been years since I paid much attention to my personal blog, dropping by only occasionally to post something new, moderate comments, or apply Drupal updates. I've been wanting to upgrade for a while, and the current status of Drupal 9 + its core themes Olivero (front-end) and Claro (admin) convinced me to spend a few evenings making it happen. However, I didn't want to just rock the default blue palette the Olivero theme uses by default.
In various areas of my life, my motif is late 70's, early 80's ... '77 Alfa Spider, long hair and trucker hat, fleece lined sherpa jacket, etc. I'll work all night grooving to CCR or Darksynth, and if I can't have an angular Lamborghini Countach, I can at least dream of a Tesla Cybertruck. To make Olivero "mine", I opted for an 80's synthwave inspired palette pairing the Centarro purple with neon pink accents.Read more
Acquia was named a Leader in The Forrester Wave for Agile Content Management Systems, Q1 2021.
This research replaces Forrester's Wave on Web Content Management Systems. The focus is now on "agile content management" instead of "web content management". This makes sense given the way people consume content today. Because consumers shift between channels when researching a brand or product, organizations need a back end that can support all these different end points (e.g. web, mobile, kiosks, voice assistants, etc).
The analysts note: The [Acquia] platform shined in developer and practitioner tooling, with superior capabilities in front-end components and backend extensibility of the platform..
This article takes a look at 6 major benefits of agile that have become even more important with the recent rise in digitalization.READ MORE
This is the first of the two-part series on ‘Formulating a business case for a new CMS’. The first part debates on open source CMS and proprietary CMS. The second part will discuss various other factors that are to be considered before opting for a new CMS for your business.
A successful business is resultant of an array of decisions, whether big or small, leading to its conception, formulation and finally, execution. With digital being normalized to the extent where it is the only way we know of to access a ton of products and services, a solid online presence has come to be of utmost importance for a business. A lot of times, businesses prefer going for a CMS (Content Management System) instead of building a website from scratch, as a CMS gives you a pre-built website, good to go as it is, or easily customisable even without having a dedicated team of developers and related coding knowledge.What are the options?
The first step towards making a business case is to weigh your available options side by side. As a business choosing a new CMS, you will be rendered the following options -A) Proprietary Model CMS
A CMS built under the proprietary backdrop will have a unitary ownership. Every tool and feature available will be created and listed by the owner organisation, and will be served to the end user in a transactional manner, with not much deliberation involved as everything sources back to one single origin.B) Open Source CMS
On the contrary, in an open source CMS model, apart from a few core features, contributions are invited from everybody. The model opens up avenues for discussion and innovation for its end users thus forming the likes of a community, working together for the greater goal.
Due to the community benefits that come along with an open source CMS, recent statistics point towards an increase in inclination towards adopting an open source model for a business.Source : The New Stack
The said benefits can largely be summed up in the following points.Source : SASSource : SASBusiness Case : Open Source CMS vs. Proprietary CMS
For a better understanding of the business case for a CMS of either kind, let’s compare from various dimensions the features of Open Source and Proprietary CMS models with a business point of view -The Costs
In a proprietary model, since it is the organisation that bears all the cost of maintenance, addition and subtraction of features, upgradation and bug fixation, it will recover these expenses in the form of subscriptions, licenses etc. You might need to pay yearly renewal fees or monthly usage charges. Along the line, be prepared for cost surprises, as they may initially be hidden, but will pop up soon enough.
If you’re wondering why to choose an open source CMS in this case, it is because it’s free to use with no charges in the form of subscriptions or premiums.
Hence, both the models do need some form of monetary support, and it is the business owners’ call what they want to invest their money on.Customisation
With the homogeneity that comes with proprietary CMS models, also comes rigidity in terms of customisation and personalisation, since there’s very little that is left to you for deliberation. Hence, if your business thrives on establishing unparalleled user experience by tapping on features like personalised feed and customisable layouts, go for open source. An open source model remains connected to its user base owing to continuous contributions and ongoing discussions within the community, making the field research for customisation much easier.
On the other hand, if your requirements do not place much focus on the look and feel of the site, and rather banks on niche content for niche audiences, the associated costs and effort that comes with customisation is not that high utility for you and this is when to choose a proprietary CMS.Complexity
Needless to say, all the additional features and tools make open source CMS unnecessarily complex. A small business with limited resources might find it too overwhelming to delve into web development especially if it is not their calling. However, the open source community, like that of Drupal, for instance, is available at your disposal any time. Just leave your questions in the dedicated forum, someone from the Drupal Community, that comprises millions of members, would surely revert. Or, if you wish to get web performance optimisation services or support and maintenance services, you can also partner with a digital agency which specialises in Drupal. In the case of proprietary CMS, with a single vendor to reach out to, things can be streamlined here as well.Reliability
A proprietary CMS is a one-stop-shop experience, everything is handed out to you at once and you have very little to worry about if your area of expertise lies elsewhere. You can certainly rely on it in customary scenarios where you’re looking for greater stability of the product. But what must be kept in mind is that the ownership decides the lifespan of every service offered, and reliance takes a hit if the products you’ve based parts of your business on are changed opposite to your liking, or even removed. You also need to rely on the owners for bug fixes.
On the other hand, in case of an open source CMS, when our surrounding technology sphere undergoes change, open source is the first to reflect it, as it consists of users, and more importantly, contributors, from all across the globe. It gives one the freedom to work on a part of the software that is useful to them, hence creating their own safety net.Security
Proprietary CMS models bank on security by keeping their source code under wraps, which might backfire as any bugs that creep into the source code will remain hidden from the public eye as well. Although the source code being open in open source models has drawn speculation, it is widely known for bug fixes being very prompt as multiple hands are working constantly to make it error free. Snyk found out in one of their reports that there were lower vulnerabilities reported across popular open source ecosystems, and that there was an improved security mindset within open source organisations.Bulkiness
Proprietary software packages come in a bulk, installing various components that you might never end up using, as choosing exactly what to install isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Open source softwares are based online, taking up negligible computer storage space. If bulkiness is your area of concern because you already have a lot of bulk on your plate, closed source might add to the problem.Expertise Required
Open source is a developer’s paradise. If you have the expertise to work on an open source software or can afford people with the needed skills, nothing like it. However, if your website requires multiple people being on board to handle the content on a regular basis, it might not be the best choice for you. A closed source software doesn’t need any technical knowledge or coding skills to work seamlessly, while open source does. People with little to no technical experience can also work on proprietary software.Innovation
The flexibility and space for innovation that comes with an open source software is unparalleled. Open source is like a self service buffet, each user is free to take what he or she wants, but it does not end there. New ideas for the betterment of the software and the community are always invited. In comparison, closed source models have a few people deciding on the features of the software, so it is impossible to cater to everybody. If your business’ future is to thrive on change and creativity, it is best to go for an open source model to avoid a fix in the future.
In open source communities, we see newer ideas and technologies on the ground not only sooner, but also on a continuous test drive with multiple technicians already working on the issues as soon as they’re detected. Open source CMS Drupal has held quite a starry record in unleashing new trends and making those functional as an open source platform. Macro trends in the industry like Continuous Delivery for superfast project deliveries, microservices infrastructure for small, autonomous services and machine learning for ‘intelligent’ web development’ have been brought to good use by Drupal. Hence, newer technologies see optimum utilisation with the backdrop of an open source community.Most importantly, the satisfaction of working with open source and contributing to it
Contributing to open source also has a plethora of hidden, indirect benefits. A company that is known to contribute to the common good is sure to build a positive, welcoming and compassionate brand value both within and outside the company. Developers involved in working on the open source components would be interacting with similar abundantly skilled people from all around the globe. Hence, not only is open source the right thing to do, it is equally exciting and challenging to work on. A person constantly interacting with the community is bound to gain a lot of dynamic experience, leading to a much faster growth rate as compared to a stagnant worker. And at the end of the day, one walks home satisfied and content with the feeling of having contributed to the bigger picture, to have fulfilled a bit of their own social responsibility.
Companies as big units also find it important to provide funding to the community as a part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Since they derive so much in terms of components and knowledge from the open source community, it only makes sense at the end of the day to give back to it. More on large companies' preference for open source here.
Drupal as an open source software has time and again seen how contributions and community engagement keep the platform afloat. Drupal acknowledges each contributor by issuing them credits for their work, and derives essential data from the trends of contributors. For example, if they see minimal engagement from a social or ethnic group, the inclusion statistics are likely to be revisited in order to analyse whether Drupal is accessible to everybody to engage and contribute in. Drupal also states in its Values and Principles that the bigger goal is to foster a learning environment leading to collaborative decision making and overall excellence. To know more, take a look at what makes open source recession proof, how it has tackled Covid-19 problems, and how Drupal stayed on top in the coronavirus pandemic.
At present, Drupal receives contributions from thousands of organisations and individuals who believe in the power of open source. Learn more about the approaches and perks of contributing to Drupal here.Conclusion
The process of choosing a new CMS should be undergone carefully after thorough analysis of every aspect of the business cases for different softwares. The CMS is what you choose to represent and associate your brand image with, hence it should do justice to your goals, agendas and vision.blog banner blog image CMS open source cms Open Source Community proprietary cms Content Management System Open Source Blog Type Articles Is it a good read ? On
While this trend might be counteracted by another - brutalism - you’ll find a gluttony of sites brandishing a set of bright colours emboldened further with soft gradients. This of course poses some accessibility challenges with text overlapping such backgrounds. Check out Stripe.Animated background
The more courageous of the brands push their vivid colours even further with background gradient animations. Check out Qoals.Glassmorphism
Peering through glass-like interface elements might hark back to Windows Vista times, and more recently with the latest builds of iOS. UI designers are taking it further with 'glassy' overlays to help text become a bit more accessible over gradients and bright backgrounds. Check out DesignCode.Stay tuned
We’ll keep you updated as we release these and more on Convivial.
I've been lucky enough to be a guest on a few Drupal related podcasts recently, continuing my long standing trend of talking to anyone who will listen.
Drupal Easy Podcast: Back in January, Mike Anello had me on to talk about Front End Components on Episode 238. We mostly focused on the basics, which was a nice change of pace compared to the component integration talk I had been giving recently.
Talking Drupal: the folks at Talking Drupal recently decided to have a rotating co-host seat for four week stretches and were nice enough to invite me to be the first to occupy the seat. Thus far I've been around to chat about:
How does it stack up
Those of you who work with Drupal, you are probably familiar with the combination of using Search API with a search backend such as MySQL or Solr. A pluggable architecture makes Search API a good choice for indexing content in Drupal.
For a long time MySQL and Solr were the popular choices. MySQL was an easy choice as performance was good and results were OK. For those working with large datasets and many concurrent facets, Solr made more sense. Most Drupal hosting companies provide it as a service for this reason. As the search market has matured, other backends have become available, including one for Sajari.
The table below compares these three options and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each.Feature Database Solr Sajari
Built into Drupal.
Drupal hosting companies provide a Solr as SaaS.
Sajari is available as a SaaS.
Full text search
More like this
A useful feature for providing item recommendations based on similarity.
Slow with many filters over large datasets with facets.
Requires a module such as Search API Database to push data across to Solr.
Requires a module such as Search API Solr to push data across to Solr.
We can configure Sajari in the Sajari UI to run from metadata on the page. Sajari provides an embeddable widget.
We recommend the Search API Sajari module approach.
Search API Integration
Search API Database module
Search API Solr module
Search API Sajari module
A site parameter can be passed into the index for easy filtering.
Interface is faster than Search API as server round trips are not needed.
Built-in metrics understand page trends and poorly performing keywords to help you see what searches led your users to individual pages, or which content visitors are searching for but can’t find.
Reports can be set up in analytics software.
Reports can be set up in analytics software.
Sajari provides logs and charts of search requests.
Autocomplete - suggestions
Extra module can be installed.
Extra module can be installed.
Libraries of synonyms can be uploaded via Sajari UI.
Support for misspelled words.
Advanced rules can be defined on certain plans.
Sajari will learn which results are more or less relevant, promoting the best results to the top.
Database comes with Drupal hosting.
Solr server comes built in with typical Drupal hosting.
Free and up
Starts free for smaller sites and then increases.
An easy, low cost search solution.
A more scalable solution with handy features such as “more like this”.
A fast system with smart results helpful for those looking for synonyms, results boosting, tracking and reporting.
Sajari is a viable alternative for clients who are looking for more insights into how their audience use the search on their site and more control over the delivery of the results. This is the case for content driven sites as well as for ecommerce configurations where preferences play a big role.Integrating Sajari with Drupal The Sajari Widgets
It is possible to implement Sajari search into any website without the need for the addition of modules or custom code in the backend. Sajari provides a set of widgets which will allow search to operate without the need for much technical knowledge.
Secondly, Sajari offers a tool in the admin UI to define a search form and results. It covers things such as the search query, filters, tabs, result counts and result display. It is very easy to configure. The result is a snippet we can embed onto your search page. A set of ReactJS components drive the search and return results in lightning speed, leading to a good experience for users.Drupal Module: Search API Sajari
For those looking for a tighter integration between their Drupal site and Sajari, it is possible to use their API to push updated content across. The Search API Sajari module , authored by the developers at Morpht, provides a backend to the venerable Search API module This will update Sajari when content is updated on your Drupal site.
The main advantages of this approach are:
- Content is indexed instantly, even when no one views it;
- Deleted content is removed from the index immediately;
- The tools within Search API allow for the fine tuning of the various fields;
- There is support for sending a site name across in the result, allowing for federation of results.
The widgets provided by Sajari offer a quick way to get up and running with a search page. However, there are some limitations in the way they work. At the time of writing (early 2021) the widgets did not support the definition of facets.
In order to overcome this shortcoming, Morpht developed a ReactJS library which sits on top of the components provided by Sajari. It has quite a number of configuration options for queries, result counts, filters, tabs and facets. It even has the ability to customise the results through the provision of a callback function which can convert the JSON result to HTML. This code is available at Sajari Configuartor.
The Sajari module makes use of Sajari Configuartor to power the way search is implemented. The module provides a block for defining how the search will operate. The configuration is then passed through to the Sajari Configurator and the UI and results are then shown.
The Sajari module also makes use of the JSON Template module which allows for different handlebars templates to be defined by the themer. These templates can then be selected by an editor during the block creation process. The select template then forms the basis for the callback which is passed into the Sajari Configuartor. The result is that editors can select how to show results. There is no need to alter the ReactJS templates which are in the library.A recipe
If you are looking to get up and running with Sajari, we recommend this process:
- Sign up for a free account at Sajari;
- Set up an initial collection in Sajari, but add no fields;
- Install JSON Template, Sajari and Search API Sajari;
- Configure Search API Sajari with your collection details in a new Server;
- Define your Node Index and assign it to the Sajari server you have just created. The schema will be updated automatically in Sajari with the changes you make in Drupal;
- Confirm that content is being indexed properly;
- Add a Sajari search block to your search page and configure it. Be sure to use the correct pipeline and get the field names right;
- Test the search and confirm it is working.
Sajari is an up-and-coming search provider offering a new breed of search which can utilise human behaviour to improve the results it shows. It's useful for content heavy and ecommerce sites which have a strong need for good search results. There are now integration modules for Drupal to get you up and running with Sajari easily.Is Sajari right for you?
If you currently have a Drupal site based on a different engine and are interested in what Sajari can offer you, please get in touch with us to discuss it further.