Monthly Archives May 2016

DrupalCon New Orleans Recap

DrupalCon is the name given to global conferences where members of the growing Drupal community, including developers, system engineers, designers, project managers, functional analysts, and more, gather to participate in learning sessions, talks, code sprints, and social events. Last week, Flightpathers Denise and Bart were part of the 3,102 attendees who attended DrupalCon in New Orleans.

DrupalCon Takeaways

Drupal 8 launched last November with hundreds of improvements, making it easier to use for both developers and site administrators. Translatability and localization out of the box, enhanced accessibility and WAI-ARIA compliance, REST-first native web services, and mobile-first, responsive, HTML5 output are just a few features that make D8 better than D7.

Drupal 8 has a large adoption rate. Within the 3 months of release, 60,000 websites have been developed. Popular companies that use Drupal include Tesla, The Weather Channel, Pfizer, Cisco and Nike.

 

Drupal 8 Features and Enhancements

Common Drupal 7 modules are now part of the Drupal 8 core like Display Suite, custom blocks, and views. This makes it easier for developers to build websites. There will no longer be a need to search for common modules and installing them. We loved the Lego cruise ship analogy presented by Josh Koenig of Pantheon:

DrupalCon New Orleans D7 Analogy of modules - you have to pull different modules to build a site. Looks a little sloppy doesn't it?
D7 Analogy of modules – you have to pull different modules to build a site. Looks a little sloppy, doesn’t it?
DrupalCon New Orleans D8 Analogy of modules - you get a better looking cruise ship
D8 Analogy of modules – you get a better looking cruise ship

Markup

All markup is now in Twig templates. That means developers can control HTML output and attributes like classes, data, IDs, and more. In Drupal 7, HTML was messy and there was no control over classes or IDs you had no control over it, making it hard for a developer to add/remove classes from HTML elements. Now with D8 you can easily control HTML elements and classes with TWIG templates. Only downside is that need to learn twig template engine but once you learn it, it will make everything easier.

CSS and Javascript

Drupal 7 typically outputs all CSS and Javascript files regardless if it is called on the page/node. Drupal 8 now has libraries that will include global or node-specific files.

Pattern Lab

Pattern Lab is a custom static site generator. We have used it for several projects and were pleased to learn that developers can combine a Twig version of Pattern Lab with Drupal 8. You can build out front end code once designs are produced and there no longer is a need to wait for a backend developer to build the site. You can just copy and paste the Pattern Lab CSS and code (or sync it with Grunt) to your Drupal theme, change a few class and ID names, and, voilà, you’re done.

Integration with Javascript Frameworks

Since you have full control of the markup and attributes, you can integrate with Ember, Angular, or React.js.

Other Takeaways

Security

We all know credit cards are important. Security on your site is more than just a credit card – that’s not what hackers want anyway. If you’re collecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as a name and an email address, don’t store this information. By default, use SSL for your website – it will be a win for security purposes and also beneficial for SEO. Let’s Encrypt offers free SSL certificates so there is no excuse not to secure your site. Using CloudFlare, SSO (Google, Facebook) and other modules can help with security. Security is a good business investment.

UX Best Practices

Numerous presenters have stated that developers and designers should build a site together, especially after the wireframes have been created. With D8, Twig and Pattern Lab can help build wireframes to life.

Keep the user in mind. If you focus on the user, all else will follow. Set urgency to prioritize appropriate calls to action.

Accessibility

Creating an accessible web experience improves SEO, usability, and increases the size of your market by opening it up to the vast number of people who have restraints on their ability to interact with web content. D8 has numerous accessibility improvements, such as alt text being a required field.

A few tips:

  • Color contrast – Take note of text color over images, avoid low contrast, take note of font weight.
  • When writing image alt text, use descriptive phrases. Think of it like a tweet. go up to 140 characters.
  • Closed captioning on videos. YouTube has automatic captioning. Subtitles are great for silent autoplay.
  • Headings – avoid use of headings for styling. Use headings for hierarchy.
  • When writing link text, train your content editors to avoid using “Here” “Click Here.” Use descriptive links, like “For more info, email Joe.”
An example of how link text is typically written and how it appears on screenreaders
An example of how link text is typically written and how it appears on screenreaders

 

An example of how link text should be written and how it appears on screenreaders
An example of how link text should be written and how it appears on screenreaders

There was a lot learned at DrupalCon, with topics of interest to all parties within an organization. Beyond all the trainings and sessions, there was an emotional touch. DrupalCon ended with a marriage proposal at the closing session and a D6 funeral procession and mourning party.

We enjoyed our time in NOLA and we look forward to the next DrupalCon North America, which will take place in Baltimore next spring. Did you attend DrupalCon this year? Have you attended any noteworthy sessions? Let us know. Tweet us @FlightpathNY, message us on Facebook, or find us on LinkedIn.

Flightpath Certified as NYC’s First Umbraco Gold Partner

We are pleased to announce that Flightpath has been designated as a Certified Gold Umbraco Partner. We are one of a handful of gold partners on the east coast of the U.S. and the only digital agency in NYC certified as an Umbraco partner.

Umbraco is a free, open-source web content management system (CMS) built on the ASP.NET platform with an emphasis on simplicity and ease-of-use. It has the flexibility to run anything from microsites to complex applications for Fortune 500’s.

Flightpath has been building sites with Umbraco since 2008 and we have increasingly turned to it to build easy-to-maintain content managed websites. The Umbraco CMS has matured considerably since the launch of Umbraco 7 in 2013. The CMS has improved in almost every way including:

● Improved editor’s interface including a grid editor great for building responsive web sites

● Powerful developer programming interfaces using modern technologies (ASP.NET MVC, Angular JS)

● A rich ecosystem of plugins that provide enhanced functionality including support for multilingual sites, e-commerce, and much more.

Over the last three years, as we have seen the Umbraco CMS improve, Flightpath has invested in becoming Umbraco experts. Three years ago we became certified Umbraco partners — a designation that signifies that we have obtained at least four developer certifications. We are also active within the Umbraco community: for the last two years we have hosted the New York Umbraco meetup and every year we have participated in uWestFest, the annual North American Umbraco conference which began in 2014.

Becoming a Gold Partner was a natural next step in our continued commitment to the platform. Becoming a Gold Partner benefits all our current and future clients that want to use Umbraco. First of all, Gold Partners such as Flightpath support Umbraco by financially supporting Umbraco HQ, the company that maintains the open source project. This directly translates into ongoing improvements that benefit all Umbraco users. Secondly, by being a Gold Partner, Flightpath gets direct access to the Umbraco core developers and exceptional support for our Umbraco projects.

We are excited about the future of Umbraco and look forward to growing and riding our association with it in the years to come, for clients in the New York City area and beyond.