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Verbosity: Drupal Sprint Cards

Fri, 03/10/2014 - 6:26pm

Announcing the sprint cards! My team created these cards as a condensed version of the DrupalCon Autsin mentor training. They summraize the top tasks needed for new contributors and coders and can be printed at any local print shop (usually in 12-24h) because we formatted them to be printed on standard business cards. So they are cheap to print and ready when you need them.

These cards have been seen at many Drupal events now and they get a good response wherever they go. The first sprint where they appeared was at the Jersey Shore (thanks again to the NJ team for bringing us there!) and they have since been at camps across North America and now at DrupalCon Amsterdam.

You can find them on our DrupalGive page, or use this handy PDF link.

Printing Specifications

Take this information to your local print shop.

  • Business card size (formatted for North America, so 3.5 × 2 inches... in metric that is 88.9 × 50.8mm [you may ask them to "scale" the PDF to your local size])
  • cardstock (thick paper)
  • matte (not glossy... sometimes people want to write on them)
  • double-sided
  • color
  • "no bleed" (extra cropping not necessary)
  • PDF file
  • quantity $x (most print shops have a special rate for different quantity, good to ask)
Category: Drupal 8Drupal Planet
Categories: Drupal News

Károly Négyesi: Following up on Doctorow's keynote

Fri, 03/10/2014 - 12:14pm

You will find often find the less you are allowed to do with a computer the more user friendly it seems. This is hardly a coincidence. You need to make your decisions on how much inconvenience you are willing to take for freedom in computing. The first and most important step is to make these decisions deliberate. Perhaps after the keynote this necessity is clear.

I will detail my choices and my rationale. As Doctorow said, I avoid everything Apple. They have made DRM'd computing mainstream and I do not really want anything to do with them. When work makes me use a Mac (happens) then I use a very old second hand Mac Mini but have plans to switch to a Hackintosh. The best is if you can find a free hand down piece to make sure you are not fueling the Apple ecosystem even indirectly. And, I run OS X 10.7.4 because 10.7.5 comes with Gatekeeper and that software is simply not acceptable because it can limit the computer to only run Apple sanctioned applications. Another possible choice is to refuse work that requires a Mac -- I never claimed to be perfect.

Alas, the above decision makes you use Linux as your primary OS. Mind you: there are no good choices in the OS space. The "classic" Linux problems of laptops not sleeping, wifi, projectors are gone by now. Buying printers need a little care but most work.

Probably you want a smartphone and with the iPhone ruled out that probably means an Android phone. Pick one with an unlockable bootloader and install a custom recovery and a custom ROM. Consider as you install each free app on what are you giving up. I decided that using Google Maps is worth it for me but that's something everyone needs to decide for themselves and that's one of the hardest decisions. Practice healthy paranoia by sniffing your own traffic with tPacketCapture or a similar tool from time to time to make sure you know what's happening on the phone.

Speaking of traffic, make sure you can trust your router: buy one that is compatible with open source firmware and flash one. I was much afraid to make this step because I feared I will get another maintenance and/or stability nightmare but nothing like that occured. These days you can find a few with preinstalled DD-WRT even. If you choose one of these, make sure to email the manufacturer saying you've choosen their device because of the open source firmware. This perhaps will spur them to make more of the same. There are companies that purport open source compatibility but at the same time the small print says installing such violates warranty. Ask them why.

In eReaders, avoid the Kindle. I had a Kindle once -- the Paperwhite screen made me waver -- but no longer. These days I have a Kobo Aura HD for the beautiful screen of it. Make sure your eReader radio is off. Another of those convenience vs freedom decisions -- I very strongly prefer my device and my books being controlled by me and in turn I can suffer plugging the reader in to download a book or four. I recommend buying books from Barnes & Noble because their DRM is super easy to remove. Don't forget to email them thanking for this -- it's understandable they don't have the choice to sell DRM free books but at least they don't use the vile Adobe system many places use. Also, tech books at O'Reilly are DRM free, yay!

Categories: Drupal News

Forum One: DrupalCon Amsterdam, Day 4: Our Kung fu is more powerful than yours!

Fri, 03/10/2014 - 9:37am

Campbell and I presented our session, Coder vs. Themer, Thursday morning and it was a huge success! The gist of the session was this: Campbell and I are both martial artists in addition to Drupalists, and we drew comparisons between our respective martial arts (Ninjitsu and Kung fu) and our respective Drupal roles (coder and themer). Then we both attempted, in real time, to build a Drupal site from a markup. I could only use the theme layer and Campbell could only use the code/module layer. The 302 attendees were more than spectators, they were active participants, cheering us on when we found clever solutions and booing when we took hacky shortcuts! Who won?!

Watch the video (slides with audio) and decide for yourself!!

Later that afternoon we also led a BOF (Birds of a Feather) expanding on our earlier session. We dubbed this follow-up Coder vs. Themer: Fight Club, and in it the attendees are divided into small development teams, each containing at least one coder and one themer. We then challenged them to collaborate and build out mockups. We had the luxury of having Augustin Delaporte and Robert Douglass of Commerce Guys there to provide development servers on their platform.sh hosting platform. All the teams did well and more importantly everyone had fun.

Drupalcon Amsterdam’s closing session always has the big reveal of next year’s European Drupalcon venue, and we were all very excited when it was announced that the 2015 Drupalcon Europe would take place in beautiful Barcelona, Spain on September 21-25. Campbell and I cannot wait and are already planning several new, fun, energetic, and engaging sessions!

Categories: Drupal News

Chapter Three: We Need Digital Experience Directors

Fri, 03/10/2014 - 5:35am

Our industry needs a new position. A person whose entire job is owning, directing and overseeing a website. We need a new title for them. I propose we call them Digital Experience Directors



The current landscape for smaller companies

At best, people who currently do this work are called Web Master, Site Administrator or Marketing Coordinator—all titles which are low on the political totem pole. At worst (and more commonly), it’s a task tacked on to someone’s job, often forgotten or ignored.



How this hurts companies

Businesses suffer because of this hierarchy. The lack of long-term strategic oversight devalues the investments companies make in websites. Relegating content upkeep to roles without director-level authority creates headless websites. This usually produces sites with:

Categories: Drupal News

Get Pantheon Blog: See The Future: Drupal 8's Configuration Management

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 6:56pm

The biggest news from DrupalCon Amsterdam is the announcement that Drupal 8 is now in Beta. One of the most anticipated features of D8 is the Configuration Management Initiative, which aims to solve the well-known problem of "how do I deploy changes I made in my admin interface?"

We've been involved in this work over the past few years. Our CTO David helped architect the solution, and he and Co-Founder Matt Cheney presented the results in one of the most packed presentations at the Con:

Check out the video of their presentation to see the shape of things to come.

If you want to skip to the magic, it starts at around minute 20 with a live demo.

If you'd like to try this yourself, you can spin up a D8 Beta Site today and see the future of Drupal site development. For those of us who have been watching and waiting on this for years, it's an exciting moment to see that this solution is really going to work.

Blog Categories: EducationEngineeringRelated posts: Pantheon Drupal 8 Development (for free)
Categories: Drupal News

Last Call Media: We sold Drupal to the world

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 10:43am
We sold Drupal to the world

(Illustration by Colin Panetta)

Much of the world has standardized on Drupal as their solution for a Content Management System for over a million websites. This is not hard to see. For example, Drupal makes headlines when organizations like NYSE (before merging with ICE) decided to switch to it.

NYSE
“Once we had those sites up and running there was a huge pent up demand for other sites in the company, and we launched 37 more. It was a big task, as some of those websites hold tens of thousands of pages - being highly regulated we are required to post everything we do online.”
- Bob Kerner, NYSE SVP & Chief Digital Officer 2010

“The important thing for us is that we are able to keep a relatively small team of 60 developers”
- Bob Kerner, NYSE SVP & Chief Digital Officer 2010

“We have tons of work to do, but we will rely on Drupal to build our social community.”
- Bob Kerner, NYSE SVP & Chief Digital Officer 2010

- https://www.acquia.com/resources/case-study/nyse-euronext

Another example is NBC Universal.

NBC
“[NBC Universal has] 30 to 40 leading brands, such as Bravo, Syfy, Telemundo.”
- Christopher Herring, Director, Publishing Program, NBC Universal

“We continue to push Drupal as our standard across the company.”
- Rob Gill, Director, Operations, NBC Universal

- http://www.acquia.com/resources/acquia-tv/conference/nbc-universal

One of the most recent large scale pushes to Drupal is well underway at Pfizer. I asked Mike Lamb, Director of Marketing Technology at Pfizer, a few questions about it.

How many Drupal websites are currently in action at Pfizer?
Approx 500 - 

How many people would you say it takes to support these sites?
Easiest to calculate suggesting a core team of 12 and then approx 1 person for every 15 sites, so approx 45 people. That’s to keep the platform running – projects and enhancements is additional.

How many non-Drupal sites will become Drupal sites over the next few years?
I’d say approx 200 migrations per year. Drupal launches are a combination of site migrations and completely new sites.

This is a serious amount of Drupal for one, although a big one, company. I gave this info as a talk at a Drupal Camp in Connecticut, MA. In two years, it will take the total attendance of that camp to support Drupal at Pfizer.

A little closer to home, I asked Gary Parker, Systems Analyst at University of Massachusetts (my alma mater), about it.

How many Drupal websites are currently in action at UMASS?

OIT hosts around 120 production sites.  I believe there are probably another two dozen hosted by various departments managing their own servers.

How many will become Drupal over the next few years?

Given the number of sites currently in development and our rate of growth, I'd expect 30-50 additional Drupal sites within the next year.

These numbers are lower but this is still a lot of Drupal. The holy grail of this type of information, however, is perhaps the growing list of Drupal sites in government. The “list includes embassies, parliaments, governmental portals, police, research centers, ministries/departments, monarchies etc. in more than 150 countries.” Check it out if you haven’t yet. It is awe inspiring.

How did this happen?

A popular answer involves a long list of Drupal’s amazing feature set. But how did that happen? Drupal is not alone. It is just another shining example of a wildly successful open source project. Drupal is to the Content Management System what Linux was for the Operating System. So how do these things happen?

The reason, I think, takes the following points as its premise:

  • Open Source software is inherently inclusive and collaborative.
  • The vast majority of participation is driven by intrinsic motives for personal growth, relationships, and helping others.
  • Participating is an endeavor that creates actual happiness, dedication, and community.
  • Open Source thrives to the extent it is shared.

It is fairly straightforward to get involved in open source. Despite current issues with tech culture, the code is available, the tools are collaborative, and the standards are, for the most part, objective. Community develops from solving intrinsically interesting programming problems. This is rewarding not only to the individuals involved, but open source and the world benefits from this collaboration.

Drupal has fostered such a community for itself by being adequately inclusive and collaborative. It is trusted experts, from this community, that are being asked what they recommend be the solution to the Content Management System issue. Across the world, they are saying, “Drupal, hands down.”

It is in this sense that we have effectively sold Drupal to the world. Now, we must stand by our recommendation. We must support it.

With worldwide adoption at the rate and scale we are seeing, there are some challenges that are coming with it. Here are some:

  • Are we supporting our solution efficiently?
  • Seeming talent shortage
  • Team retention
  • Recruiting
  • Community

Each of these challenges are not unique to Drupal and are painfully experienced across the entire IT industry. Solutions are many and vary significantly between each challenge. Taken one by one, each tell a familiar story.

Are we supporting our solution efficiently?

Drupal is a powerful system with a lot of complexity. It has an infamous learning curve with nearly every Drupal project needing access to an expert a few times in its existence. Are we able to provide the needed level of Drupal support at a sustainable and affordable rate? The number of new Drupal sites is quickly outpacing the number of new Drupal experts. Salaries and rates have been increasing dramatically over the years. Is there a supply and demand issue with supporting Drupal?

A popular response from Drupal experts, “Is this a problem? What’s wrong with being in demand and making a lot of money?” During my survey on this topic, I also got responses like this:

We are basically pretty unhappy about that migration - it almost killed
support for Drupal on this campus, and still might. If we could do it all
over again we'd probably still be on 6.
-Name Withheld - VIP, A Five College Institution

The move from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 has been very painful for many. Affordable Drupal expertise is rare and in demand, but the show must go on even if it ends horribly at times. It is reasonable to believe that, if this experience were to continue, Drupal would be abandoned.

Seeming talent shortage

Facts on this are popular across the entire computing industry. This one is concise and popular:

Some 1.2 million computing jobs will be available in the US in 2022, yet United States universities will produce only 39 percent of the graduates needed to fill them.
-NCWIT “By the numbers”

With a couple hundred million people out of work worldwide, an industry with an apparent talent shortage should give us pause. If you are a professional in the IT industry, consider this question:

How did you get into your field?

Nearly all answers to this question involve an entertaining tale of happenstance abruptly ending in, “...and that’s how I got into IT.” A popular term for this is, “accidental techie.” Since no career path was chosen, nor specific degree given, the person’s resulting career was accidental. For example, it is not unusual to find an English or Math degree in a Senior Programmer position. To go even further, I don’t find it unreasonable to consider Computer Science degrees in a web developer position as “accidental” in this sense. There is no college course that teaches you how to optimize your local development stack or the importance of limiting rounds of revisions.

I don’t fully agree, however, with the widespread use of this term. I’m sure some people truly do accidentally fall into a career in IT, but the rest end up there by following their heart. The issue is that the paths to entry are confusing, intimidating, and just damn hard for seemingly no good reason. It is not so much that there is a talent shortage as much as the directions in are mostly undefined.

Drupal, it seems, is no exception.

Team retention

If there is a talent shortage, then retention will be a challenge. Many organizations are finding themselves a stepping stone for their employees to reach greener pastures. The big players, with deeper pockets and bigger promises, are harvesting talent from smaller players, leaving the latter’s quality of work inconsistent as they scramble to find and train new talent.

And then there are statistics like this:

56% percent of Women leave IT by mid career
-Harvard Business Review - #10094

Not only are we not producing enough talent to support this industry, but we are driving a staggering portion of it away.

Recruiting

On the question, “What is the biggest recruiting challenge your organization faces?” a Talent Technology 2012 recruitment survey found “Finding good candidates” way out ahead of the pack with, “Filling positions fast,” in close second. Not only can we not find good candidates, but we can’t find them fast enough. There is no surprise here given the discussion so far. 

Community

The last challenge to be considered is us; ourselves. What do we do about this? For challenges so closely related, our solutions tend to be astonishingly specific. What can we do?

Hack Talent Shortage? 

We can’t solve this by staying up late and building a website. And what good will it really do to find a way to pump more people into an industry where a substantial portion are going to leave mid career?

Buy more kegs for the office? 

The people who want more kegs aren’t missing from this equation. The issue is that we’ve hired all the people that are excited by this sort of thing.

Get recruiters access to some NSA backdoors?

Obviously no, but allowing recruiters to be more invasive won’t fix this.

“And, what did you do?” 
-Rita (Nana) Albrecht, My Grandmother (1914-2014)

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to do this thing when I would tell on my sister. I would come running to my grandmother, “She’s annoying me, she’s annoying me, make her stop.” My grandmother would always ask, “And, what did you do?” meaning, what had I done to my sister, which of course I would try to answer, “Nothing…”

She may have just been trying to get the full story but what always stuck with me was, if I just took a look at myself, I could see, I had a role to play in the situation.

So, community, we need to look at ourselves.

Talent Shortage - We need to look at ourselves

Find and support those working to ease entry into this field. Some example organizations (is there a good list somewhere?):

Here are two examples close to my home:

Groups are working hard on this already and they need our support and collaboration. Find and support organizations with goals of increasing student interest in, and preparation for, careers in STEM.

Retention - We need to look at ourselves

Here are some things we can do in our organizations to solve our retention issues:

Manager and Maker schedule distinction (see here)

I’ve seen this change IT company culture drastically for the better. This is a topic all its own, but the basic idea is in recognizing the value in giving your Makers uninterrupted time to complete their work. A Maker is someone who makes something. Writers, Craftsman, Musicians, Painters, and Programmers are examples of Makers. They need schedules with long stretches of uninterrupted time to focus on doing a good job. With this understanding, Managers work to be a distraction buffer, managing incoming issues in order to optimize the experience of the Makers, whose work quality then excels and personal enjoyment increases. Tasks deliver with higher quality resulting in Managers producing overall better projects. Teammates are much less likely to leave a team which works like this.

Consider who your policies and improvements benefit

Team retention means considering everyone. If your policies and improvements tend to focus on a subset of your team, other team members are at risk of increasingly feeling excluded. Not feeling like good fit, they will start to consider your team as a stepping stone to a better situation. A new ping pong table or keg in the office may seem a quick win for smaller homogenous teams but will foster fracturing in better evolved and more realistic situations.

Increase inner company dialog and communication

Have regular conversations about how things are going internally. Work to foster feelings of safety in sharing one’s pain points within the company. It is hard at first but invaluable once people become comfortable with sharing without fear of endangering their job and as people learn to listen without getting defensive. Increasing dialog, increases accountability and alleviates resentments that would otherwise lead to a breakdown in the team. 

Increase inner company transparency

This one is scary for many at first: Work to share more administrative details about the decisions that concern your team. Work to eliminate closed door meetings. Increasing transparency, increases trust, feelings of being trusted and feelings of true belonging to a group. It is also a way to share responsibility and, in that sense, ownership. Bad news is easier for a team to bear, and good news has a greater impact and is more intimate, when the decisions leading up to it were shared.

Make a Company Code of Conduct

Your team may be full of people that feel they don’t need something like this. They may think things like, “if people mistreat me, I’ll just tell them off” or, “we don’t need this because we don’t have a conduct problem.” There is nothing wrong with putting it in writing what is expected and what isn’t tolerated at your company. In fact, doing so means you take it seriously. It means you recognize that people are fallible, don’t always know how to act, and putting it in writing is the first step to actually making an effort to be considerate and accepting of each member of your team. You can be sure this is extremely important to at least a few people on your team, even if they haven’t found a way to express it. Do some research on other Codes of Conduct, it is very worthwhile.

Recruiting - We need to look at ourselves

We saw earlier that the biggest challenge recruiters face in an organization is finding good candidates, and fast enough. We can look at ourselves here and ask, “Who are we attracting?”

Does the organization prioritize things like:

  • Beer outings
  • Ping pong/Air hockey
  • Long hours with big one-time rewards

The first two are examples of things that can feel exclusionary to a good candidate looking for a new team to call home. The last one doesn’t work at all for people with families, for example, and is really only a great thing for very specific individuals having certain responsibilities and not others, like children. Your organization may currently feel on top of the world with those example perks above, but your next great candidates are turning and running away.

We can also ask, “How are we attracting talent?” For example, is the classic intimidating job posting involved?

Consider replacing things like this:

If you think you have the drive and positivity to fill these shoes:

  • One
  • Million
  • Bulletpoints

With things like this:

If you have skills in one of these and are excited by the rest:

  • Fewer
  • Bulletpoints

Adjustments to our hiring techniques that make them more inviting and less intimidating are essential changes to make. We must also take this further by asking ourselves, “How hard are we looking?”

Consider this fact:

26% of the computing workforce in 2013 were women. 
-NCWIT “By the numbers”

in the context of how you answered this question earlier:

How did you get into your field?

Most of us are having to find our way into IT accidentally, and many of us aren’t finding our way at all. The path to an IT career is currently pretty intimidating and rather obfuscated. It can be very hard to know whether or not you are going in the right direction or even just wasting your time trying.

 

Your next Drupal expert could be hiding beneath a rock of self doubt.

 

Community - We need to look at ourselves

Read the rest here.

Categories: Drupal News

Wim Leers: Render caching in Drupal 7 and 8

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 10:43am

Together with Fabian Franz & Marco Molinari from Tag1 Consulting, I had a talk about render caching in Drupal 7 and 8.

Slides: Render caching in Drupal 7 and 8Conference: DrupalCon AmsterdamLocation: Amsterdam, The NetherlandsDate: Oct 1 2014 - 10:45Duration: 45 minutesExtra information: 

See https://amsterdam2014.drupal.org/session/render-caching-drupal-7-and-8.

Categories: Drupal News

Mediacurrent: Draggableviews and Custom Publishing Options, an Alternative to Nodequeue

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 6:08am

When approaching new Drupal projects, I’m always excited to listen and learn about the project’s requirements. It’s an occasion to create just the right solution. With a recent project, I took the opportunity to rethink the use of Nodequeue to manage front page content, and instead used the Draggableviews and Custom Publishing Options projects. Before diving into that solution, let’s step through other solutions to manage front page content, so we can undestand the pros and cons of each.

Categories: Drupal News

Drupal core announcements: This Month in Drupal Documentation

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 5:30am

Here's an update from the Documentation Working Group (DocWG) on what has been happening in Drupal Documentation in the last month or so. Sorry... because this is posted in the Core group as well as Documentation, comments are disabled.

If you have comments or suggestions, please see the DocWG home page for how to contact us. Thanks!

Notable Documentation Updates

Here are some Community Documentation pages that were updated this past month:

  • ruscoe updated several pages of documentation about the Drupal Commerce IATS module. We always love to see contributed module maintainers documenting their modules -- thanks Dan!
  • andrisek updated several pages of documentation about the ERPAL CRM system contributed module. In this case, he's not even an official maintainer of the project -- we always love to see community members updating documentation too -- thanks Daniel!
  • chrischinchilla went through the Installation Guide and made updates for Drupal 8. That was one of our "Priority" tasks -- thanks Chris!
  • Many people updated documentation in preparation for code sprints in Amsterdam, to help new contributors get up to speed quickly. Always a good idea!
  • And there were many more updates... see below.

See the DocWG home page for how to contact us, if you'd like to be listed here in our next post!

Thanks for contributing!

Since September 1 (our previous TMIDD post), 229 contributors have made 629 total Drupal.org documentation page revisions, including 2 people that made more than 20 edits (andrisek and realityloop) -- thanks everyone!

In addition, there were many many commits to Drupal Core and contributed projects that improved documentation -- these are hard to count, because many commits combine code and documentation -- but they are greatly appreciated too!

Documentation Priorities

The Current documentation priorities page is always a good place to look to figure out what to work on, and has been updated recently.

If you're new to contributing to documentation, these projects may seem a bit overwhelming -- so why not try out a New contributor task to get started?

Upcoming Events

https://amsterdam2014.drupal.org - DrupalCon Amsterdam - THIS FRIDAY, October 3 - sprint!

http://bogota2015.drupal.org/ - DrupalCon Latin America, Bogotá, Columbia, Feb 10-12, 2015

Report from the Working Group

We're pleased to announce that Antje Lorch (ifrik) has officially joined the Documentation Working Group. She's been a leader of documentation events and has been participating in WG meetings for a while, so it's great to have her officially on board. Welcome Antje!

In our last This Month post, we forgot to report on a couple of our "infrastructure and tools" projects that were completed in August:

We're currently working on a new project: integrating api.drupal.org results into the Drupal.org search box -- stay tuned for updates on that!

Finally, our next meeting will be October 22nd. We normally meet using Google Hangouts (although last month we met in IRC due to technical difficulties); if you'd like to join us, contact Boris (batigolix).

Categories: Drupal News

Mediacurrent: Exploring the Picture Element Module (Part 2)

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 3:57am

It has been an interesting week since I wrote part 1 of this blog series. For one, more people have been talking about the <picture> element and that is a good thing because the more we talk about it the more attention is brought to an issue that is due for best practices and standards.

Categories: Drupal News

Code Karate: How to use n:th child to style views

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 3:55am
The Problem
Categories: Drupal News

Deeson: Deeson's DrupalCon session: 'Life in the fast lane - achieving sustainable growth'

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 1:55am

Deeson's MD, Tim Deeson, took to the stage at DrupalCon Amsterdam for the panel session 'Life in the fast lane - achieving sustainable growth'.

He was joined by Vesa Palmu from Wunderkraut, Paul Johnson from CTI Digital and Jeff Walpole of Phase2, while Robert Douglass from Commerce Guys expertly chaired it.

The hour-long session addressed a series of issues and challenges faced by Drupal agencies, shops and freelancers when trying to grow their businesses.

With questions from the packed audience and Twitter, there were plenty of interesting discussion points.

Here are our topline takeaways:

1. Why grow for the company?

There are many reasons to grow, but the key one is to deliver success.

But, equally, you need to be sure you want to grow. What's more, there are different kinds of growth: acquisition and organic growth are the two most obvious. But they come with additional risks. Acquisition can prove very disruptive internally and externally with huge organisational shifts that can reverberate for a long time. Organic growth, while more steady, may enable you to optimise but can take a long time with the potential to put a company into a rut while things shift faster around you.

2. Why grow for clients?

The main reason is is to deliver a broad range of services. Why? Because if your clients' businesses grow successfully, so will yours. There's a note of caution: you can hit a point of diminishing return, so as hard as it is, try to find your company's sweet spot. Also don't be an IT elephant. Be agile. This means be large enough to service your clients, but flexible enough to meet the changing demands of your clients' needs.

3. How do you differentiate your business in the market?

There are different approaches to this. One way could be to identify a defining moment which changed your business, for example, when you took on your first major client. Another is to highlight specialisms you have. Whatever your USPs might be, you must tailor them to the right market. Remember it's not always one size fits all.

4. Can you plan growth, or can it just happen?

There are a number of things that will help you grow, but you need to think about budgeting cycles, a defined growth path and a realistic recruitment strategy. Added into the mix are the basics such as making sure you know your products, and sell what you are good at. But before anything, carry out deal evaluation. Be good at turning down work that's not right for you. It takes nerves of steel, but you build credibility.

5. How do you sustain growth?

Be bold. Tell people where you're going and why - be open. You must show cultural leadership by reflecting your values and goals in everything you do. This way you lead from the front line each day, which is critical to maintain growth.

6. What is a risk to growth?

You can look at market influences, shifts in buying patterns and other such external challenges. If you start to lose your culture, then you also risk your growth. If your role as a leader becomes 'just a job', then the alarm bells should start ringing. And if you are failing, face them head-on. Failures are not expensive but hidden failures are.

In summary
  • Surround yourself with talented, motivated, engaged people
  • Be clear what you want to achieve and why
  • Have long term vision, approached with small steps

You can see more on the session at Twitter with #drupalfastlane

Want to learn more?

Come and find us at DrupalCon Amsterdam - we're on Stand 203!

Categories: Drupal News

Deeson: DrupalCon Amsterdam BoF: CRM integrations with Drupal 7

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 1:39am

I organised a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session at DrupalCon Amsterdam yesterday to discuss people's experiences of integrating Customer Relation Management (CRM) systems with Drupal.

The draw

It seems like it was a pretty popular topic as 12 people joined in a lively discussion which covered a number of areas.

General integration issues

We shared our experiences about integrating Drupal with remote systems, such as a CRM.

We agreed that writing custom integration modules can be a laborious process and prefer using a module to help with the integration to reduce the effort.

Integration modules

If a specific integration module does not exist then the generic Web Services Client module can be used to integrate to web services and provide Drupal actions based on Rules. For a non-Rules based approach, which requires more development, there is the Web Services Integration Framework.

Edge cases

Integrations also require consideration of edge cases, such as what to do if the remote system is unavailable. For example, should a user still be able to update their details on a Drupal website if the CRM is down for maintenance? If they are, how do you go about synchronising data later?

Possible solutions

These are the solutions we debated:

1. The group was in general agreement that there should only be one repository of 'the truth' and data should not be contained in two systems. In the case of a CRM system, user information should live in the CRM and cache what is needed on the website.

2. If the CRM is down, we agreed on a simple simple solution. Firstly, detect the system is down, switch off the connection to the remote system and display helpful messages if talking to the remote system was required. For example, "Our database is unavailable at present, we are working to correct the problem. Please check back later". The Web Service Integration Framework module takes this approach and protects sites by preventing connections being generated to the remote service if it's unavailable, which in turn prevents slow page loads.

3. More complex strategies are needed if it's critical that the website must be operational if the CRM is down. These include time-stamping requests so the data can be correctly reintegrated when the CRM returns.

Integration platforms

The group then discussed integration platforms.

These are cloud-based solutions which allow a simple mechanism for connecting two systems, such as Mulesoft, bip.io, cloudwork.io and zapier.com.

By integrating your Drupal site with one of these, you can use plugins to pass data straight to your CRM. This means less integration work as many CRMs come with plugins for these platforms already. Also, if you change your CRM provider, it's a simple matter of changing the settings in the cloud interface instead of writing or installing a new integration module on your site.

One disadvantage of using integration platforms is the rather large issue around trust. Afterall, your data will be passing through a cloud-based solution. Also, you rely on the quality of the plugin provided by the platform and custom requirements will still need to be addressed.

You can also setup and run your own integration platform using the Apache Camel project.

API quality

When writing custom integrations, the quality of the CRM's API needs to be considered. Some in the group said SalesForce provides a good mechanism for integration. Salesforce also has a Drupal integration module to help, which is maintained by the helpful people at ThinkShout, one of whom was at the BOF.

CRMs differences

When it comes to CRMs, there is a wide choice of systems available.

Drupal-based products, such as CRM Core and RedHen were discussed. The flexibility of Drupal means these are good starting points for custom CRMs for specific requirements.

Other CRMs provide a reasonable out-of-the-box experience but were generally thought to be more work to customise.

We also discussed Erpal, a complete backend business management solution, combines a CRM and invoicing system aimed at small to medium sized businesses.

As an organisation increases in size, it might need to move its CRM into a separate system, rather than being contained within their website or backend system. If this was the case then the group said it was worth considering larger platforms, such as SalesForce or MS Dynamics.

Finishing up...

There are many options in the CRM space and the BoF group went though many of the benefits and pitfalls.

It's clear that care must be taken when thinking about CRM integration. I advise having a look at what others have done before and which integration modules exist to help you before starting a custom integration.

Categories: Drupal News

Paul Johnson: An unsung hero of Drupal(Con)

Thu, 02/10/2014 - 12:05am
Category:

During the Q&A with Dries Buytaert at yesterdays keynote I referenced the many unsung heroes of the Drupal community. I would like to shine the spotlight towards one such individual. Serving as the Local Social Media Lead for DrupalCon is necessarily a behind the scenes role however it should not pass without recognition.

Meet Baris Wanschers. With impeccable integrity he has single handedly delivered the social media for DrupalCon Amsterdam. In doing so he has played a major role in the promotional, communication and support activity which has culminated in the largest European DrupalCon ever.

One should not underestimate the time and effort that Baris has poured into performing his role. As global social media lead for the conference I could not manage without bright and dependable volunteers like Baris. In Drupal we are fortunate to have bright people like him to help grow the success of the project.

Thanks Baris.

Categories: Drupal News

Acquia: Come to BADCamp 2014, the biggest and BADdest tech camp!

Wed, 01/10/2014 - 10:49pm
The BADCast

"Why should I come to BADCamp?" you may be asking. Well, if you can get to San Francisco, one of the biggest and free-est tech events on the calendar awaits you: free training, free food and drink, free summits, free sessions, amazing keynotes (free), a party (entry fee ... probably zero), "fancy coffee", and opportunities galore all await you!

Categories: Drupal News

Dries Buytaert: State of Drupal presentation (September 2014)

Wed, 01/10/2014 - 10:41pm
Topic: DrupalState of Drupal

I gave my traditional State of Drupal presentation this week at DrupalCon Amsterdam. I decided to talk about the sustainability and scalability of the Drupal community. In case you didn't attend DrupalCon Amsterdam, you can watch the recording of my keynote, download a copy of my slides (PDF, 17 MB) or read my blog post on the topic.

Categories: Drupal News

Forum One: DrupalCon Amsterdam, Day 3: Drupal 8 Beta Released

Wed, 01/10/2014 - 10:25pm


Today was day 3 of Drupalcon Amsterdam, and it started with a bang with Cory Doctorow as the keynote speaker. Cory is a noted Open Source activist, journalist, and blogger, and he has a long history of involvement with the Drupal community. He spoke passionately about the importance of transparency in software in an age when computers pervade every aspect of our lives. “we should be concerned about making free software because people want to be free, and people cannot be free in an information age without freedom of access to information,” he declared. The speech was inspiring for the crowd here, and I recommend that you give it a watch.


The buzz around the keynote was quickly replaced by much bigger news: Drupal 8 Beta has finally been released! The official announcement is available on drupal.org: https://www.drupal.org/drupal-8.0.0-beta1. We are proud and honored that so many Forum One developers have been among the 2,300 people who have contributed to Drupal 8.


Campbell and I devoted a large chunk of today prepping for our session, Coder vs. Themer, and the associated BOF (Birds of a Feather) workshop. In the session we explore the division in most development teams between the two kinds of developers. We take the style of a kung fu battle as we race each other to “live code” a working site in front of the audience. In the workshop we divide participants into teams to take the same challenge, and try different collaboration styles throughout the session. For those who have not seen our promo video, here it is again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRhLHBxYg-0


We capped off the evening by taking part in the musical portion of Cultural Night. Jam (HornCologne) led off with a trio of pieces for Alphorn. Yes, Alphorn. Like in the Ricola commercials! Then Campbell and I sang a rendition of the famous duet from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, La ci darem la mano. However, we did replace the Italian words with Drupal lyrics, “Panels handles layouts…”. We were accompanied by organizer Peter Grond’s excellent string quartet, who played beautifully but also with a great sense of fun. For example, they followed our operatic duet with the theme from the Mario Bros video game! They also played a few fusion jazz/classical pieces that I later found out were composed by members of the quartet. The evening was so inspirational that we plan to make Drupal Musical Night a regular part of the Drupalcon experience!

And now to sleep, Campbell and I present Coder vs. Themer at 10:45am tomorrow morning in the main auditorium!

Categories: Drupal News

Deeson: DrupalCon Amsterdam: Phase2 hackathon on Drupal distributions

Wed, 01/10/2014 - 9:30pm

Phase2 ran a hackathon yesterday at DrupalCon Amsterdam to encourage Drupal app and distribution development.  

Although Drupal distributions can offer a lot of value, one of the Drupal project's biggest challenges right now is awareness of its capabilities and value.

This competition was setup to provide an incentive to get developers working on a distribution for Drupal or an app for Panopoly or Open Atrium.

Why do we need distributions?

Drupal is aimed at a wide audience and needs configuration after installation to meet users' specific needs. Distributions help non-technical people build websites faster. 

The lowdown

A distribution is a package which includes both Drupal Core and a collection of other modules, libraries, themes and configuration scripts. Together these provide a fully working site configured for a very specific use case.

A great example of a distribution is Commerce Kickstart which provides a fully fledged off-the-shelf eCommerce website, something which would take some time to configure if you started with Drupal alone.

Drupal apps provide small bundles of functionality which can be added via a point and click method to an existing site.  So, if you want to add an image gallery to your site then installing the image gallery app would create the necessary content types and install the right modules to make this happen.

Getting started

I heard about the Drupal distribution hackathon competition at DrupalCon Amsterdam and got the details from the helpful people at Phase2. I headed there on my own and was welcomed into a team of three other animated developers where we started discussing ideas.  

The idea

Two of the other developers had an interesting idea about building a Drupal distribution for non-technical people which would help them build a website to deliver presentations online.

We decided to have a go at building this in Drupal 8 because it’s exciting to use a new and evolving platform. 

Introducing Promokit...

In seven short hours, we built a themed installation profile which configured Drupal with minimal effort from the end user. Nifty.

We called our idea PromoKit. It includes a first-time run wizard which helps you build your first presentation quickly and doesn't assume you know how to use Drupal.

We also added some additional niceties, such as an editing dashboard to manage and order the presentation’s slides.  

When you access the site as an anonymous user, you are shown slide 1 of the presentation which displays to full screen. You can also page through the slides using the forward and back keys.

The hack

We had a lot of fun diving deep into the Drupal 8 eco-system to understand how to build modules, themes and installation profiles. Although the finished product needs some more polish, we achieved much of our original ambition and were able to add some visual improvements, such as theming the Drupal 8 installation wizard.

Around 10pm, each team delivered a short presentation on their work. We demonstrated how Promokit used Drupal distributions to make it really easy for end users to achieve their goals. We were overjoyed when our team was awarded first prize by Phase2's CTO Frank Febbraro.

Thank you Phase2

Huge thanks to Phase2 for organising the competition and putting on the food and drink to keep us going.  Also, well done to all the other teams. I hope everyone had a great time like I did!

Categories: Drupal News

Nuvole: Drupal 7 to Drupal 8: The Cheat Sheet

Wed, 01/10/2014 - 7:31pm
From our DrupalCon Amsterdam 2014 training

Our new An Effective Development Workflow in Drupal 8 training just made its debut at DrupalCon Amsterdam. An important part of the training is dedicated to shorten the trial-and-error period developers necessarily need to go through when converting their practices from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8: we want that proficient Drupal 7 (and Features) developers with zero, or very limited, Drupal 8 knowledge, gain a rather comprehensive knowledge of Drupal 8 (focused on configuration management) that allows them to be immediately productive when Drupal 8 is released.

As a gift to those who couldn't attend the training because it was sold out, and to all lovers of Drush, Features and code-driven development in general, we are sharing a "Drupal 7 to Drupal 8" cheatsheet that was part of the training materials. Please find it attached to this post, in PDF format.

We still have some printed copies available to give away; find us at DrupalCon and feel free to ak us for some copies!

Tags: Drupal Planet, Drupal 8, Code Driven DevelopmentAttachments:  Drupal-7-to-Drupal-8-Cheatsheet.pdfImage: 
Categories: Drupal News

Dries Buytaert: Drupal 8 beta 1 released

Wed, 01/10/2014 - 7:21pm
Topic: Drupal

Today we announced Drupal 8 beta 1! This key milestone is the work of over 2,300 people who have contributed more than 11,500 committed patches to 15 alpha releases, and especially the 234 contributors who fixed 178 "beta blocker" issues. A massive thank-you to everyone who helped get Drupal 8 beta 1 done.

For more information on the beta, please read the beta 1 release announcement. To read about the new features in Drupal 8, see Drupal.org's Drupal 8 landing page.

Betas are for developers and site builders who are comfortable reporting (and where possible, fixing) their own bugs, and who are prepared to rebuild their test sites from scratch if necessary. Beta releases are not recommended for non-technical users, nor for production websites.

Categories: Drupal News

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