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Automate Your Drupal Site with #D8Rules

Have you ever dreamed of automating your Drupal site? Want to send out customized emails automatically to notify your users about updates? Automatically update a Block on the Home page after the 100,000th user visits your site? Create custom redirections, system messages, breadcrumbs? Rules for Drupal 8 can help you do this and much more!

 

How Rules Works

The Rules for Drupal 8 module allows site administrators to define conditionally executed actions based on occurring events (known as reactive or ECA rules). With Rules, site builders have a powerful interface to implement custom workflows on their site. This has proven to be an essential tool to the whole Drupal ecosystem. By 2014, the Rules module had over 200,000 reported active installations. Rules currently ranks amongst the top 20 most popular Drupal modules and is used at 1 out of every 5 Drupal sites in the world.

Rules integrates with Drupal Core APIs and all structured data exposed using the Entity and Fields systems. Over 350 other contributed modules integrate with the Rules API to provide their own custom events, conditions, actions or exposing custom data in a reusable way.

 

Supporting #D8Rules through Crowdfunding

The D8rules project has proven to be a key to opening trust and success of any future crowdfunding projects on Drupalfund. Drupalfund was first announced during Drupalcon Munich. The very first Drupalfund project was created during Drupalcon Prague.  Before D8Rules, Drupalfund has seen 7 successful campaigns, but none of this size. The folks behind Drupalfund believe that if they can raise enough funds to fully support the project, the community will begin to trust crowdfunding – a huge boost to the entire Drupal development project, enabling those who contribute.

 

The Status of Rules for Drupal 8

The upcoming revolutionary release of Drupal 8 is a complete rewrite that the community has been working on for the past three years. The folks behind Rules for Drupal 8 believe that the D8 release will be as successful as how complete its ecosystem is. For this reason, they plan on having Rules ready as early as possible.

As of early April, #d8rules has reached their second milestone. The last four months, the team has been busy getting the Rules MVP ready for Drupal 8. Thanks to funding provided by Acquia, drunomics and epiquo, #d8rules contributors were able to dedicate over 300 hours to implementing the most critical features to reach 2 out of 3 of their planned milestones. Milestone 3 is all about getting a final release of Rules for Drupal 8 ready.

The Rules module has been featured in many places, including books, on-site DrupalCon trainings and online learning series, screencasts, and even a famous Drupal event presentation by Amitaibu.

 

 

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The Secrets of Organizing Your Higher Ed Site, Part 1 of 5: Inventory

In the modern information age, we’re all experiencing information, or cognitive overload. The sheer volume of information we’re exposed to and the frequency with which it arises can be an issue, but researchers tend to agree that it’s not the volume of information; it’s how it’s organized that’s the problem.

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What You Need to Know About Information Architecture

One of the biggest mistakes we see people make when it comes to their websites is not prioritizing information architecture. While the design aspects of a website are fun, glamorous, and ultimately vital to the success of your site, it’s important that you don’t jump straight to the design and forgo the important process of building a solid information architecture and understanding the purpose behind your site and its content.

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Improving Website Performance: A Site Manager’s Guide to Minimizing Downtime

Higher education institutions often have large, complex websites that cater to many audiences who depend on their successful performance: Faculty, students, prospective students, parents and the higher education community at large.

The importance of your institution’s website cannot be understated. The web is now mission-critical, meaning that if your web presence fails, your business operations suffer as well. For this reason, any downtime is an unwelcome hassle for anyone charged with managing the website.

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How to Select the Right Web Design Firm

You have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a partner agency for your web design or development project. Here are some things to consider before making your selection:

 

What are their core services?

An agency that has the ability to complete all aspects of your project is going to be more qualified to give you the best solutions and the results you want.

  • Do they offer comprehensive design, development and support services that are up to industry standards?
  • Have they had experience with web projects that require complex problem solving or customization skills and advanced coding capabilities?
  • Are they able to develop mobile applications that are consistent with your other marketing platforms?

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5 Tips for Collecting Feedback on your New Website or Feature

DO Start early

Ideally, feedback should be part of your production plan from the very beginning when you’re looking to release a new website or feature. It’s not only a useful marketing activity to manage your online reputation, but it also may help you find the areas of your business that need improvement. The earlier you ask for feedback, the easier it will be to correct any problems that exist. You can monitor activities manually, or use an all-in-one monitoring service such as Sysomos or Brandwatch.

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Website Accessibility: What You Should Know

The average adult spends nearly 20 hours per week on the Internet

The accessible web means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web. This encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities. But web accessibility also benefits others, not just those with disabilities, including people with “temporary” disabilities such as a broken arm, older people with changing abilities due to aging.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990. Its effects are visible in nearly every public space in the form of disabled parking, ramps as alternatives to stairs, Braille signage, and more. Although the need to provide disabled people with reasonable accommodations has been a civil rights issue for decades, one important public space – the Internet – has been largely overlooked up until now.

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Psychology of a Website: Color Palette

When it comes to web design, don’t underestimate the power of color.

Colors have a strong impact on the design solutions we produce and the experiences our users take away. As you may already know, colors help to create an atmosphere. They can radically alter our mood, our perception of value, and even influence the choices that we make. For this reason, understanding color psychology is crucial for the success of your website and its content.

 

Are you considering how your design and color palette influences your audience? A poor color choice can negatively change the impact of your message. Get it wrong and your messages may be avoided entirely. There’s no absolute right color choice you should make, as the way we interpret colors and their meanings is dependent on a host of factors. However, here are a few tips and considerations to help you with your selection:

 

Research has found that color appropriateness in relation to the product is much more important than the individual color itself. For example, someone in the market for a motorcycle would probably shy away from brands that use pink or glittery color schemes.

 

Choose colors that connect with your customers’ perceptions of your brand’s personality. Certain colors do align with more specific traits and it’s important that the ones you choose support the personality you want to portray, but colors aren’t exclusive to single traits. For example, green can allude to the ruggedness and environment (Timberland’s G.R.E.E.N standard) or to money (Mint.com).

 

Emotions people associate with color can change depending on their individual, cultural or religious backgrounds. Here are some typical associations western cultures make with color:
  • Black: sophistication and power
  • White: cleanliness, sophistication, virtue
  • Red: courage, power, strength; can also stimulate appetite
  • Blue: calmness, peace, trust, safety
  • Yellow: optimism, happiness
  • Green: balance, sustainability growth
  • Purple: royalty, spiritual awareness, luxury
  • Orange: friendliness, comfort, and food
  • Pink: tranquility, femininity, sexuality

 

Contrast matters. People often assume that difference in color is what creates contrast, but that isn’t true. Two colors can be completely different but have no contrast because their tone is the same. An easy way to test your color contrast is to convert it to grayscale. Generally, high contrast is the best choice for important content. Dark on light or light on dark may not be very exciting, but it is legible to your users. Keep in mind, however, that if everything is in high contrast, nothing will stand out.

 

People like simplicity. Each color adds or takes away from your content. Too many colors make for a confusing message. Choose 2 or 3 colors to make your content easier to interpret and understand. The color wheel is a great tool for helping you make this choice.

 

There are a few different types of geometric relationships on the color wheel that make up what is known as “color harmony.”
  • Complementary: colors opposite to each other on the color wheel
  • Analogous: colors that sit next to each other. These are “related” colors that create pleasing and relaxed visuals when used together. They don’t stand out from one another, but can create subtle and beautiful content. You may need to add a complementary color to make a particular item stand out.
  • Triad: a color combination made of three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel
  • Split-complementary: Choose one color as your base, and combine with two complementary colors adjacent to its opposite
  • Rectangle: a color combination made up of four colors in complementary pairs
  • Square: similar to a rectangle palette, but the two sets of complementary pairs are colors evenly spaced around the circle

 

Caution: Color Blindness

Individuals with color blindness have a hard time distinguishing between certain colors. Red and green are two complementary colors that pose a common problem to people who are colorblind. Remember to use colors with high contrast and try to never use color as the sole information source to avoid any issues.

 

More resources:

Here are some tools you can use to help you choose a color palette for your site:
  • colr.org – lets you upload an image and see the range of colors within that image
  • colorblender – generates a set of five colors that will work well together
  • Adobe Colour CC – lets you try out and create different color schemes
  • Check my colours  – lets you determine if you’re using the right color combinations in your web design


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The least you should know about Drupal

What is Drupal?

Drupal is an open source content management system (CMS). CMS are the back-end infrastructures of websites that allow content to be created and managed with greater ease. Of all major content management systems, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are the most popular. All are open source platforms. “Open source” refers to any software that opens its code to anyone with programming skills. The major advantage of using open source software is anyone can modify it to suit the needs of the individual project.

When compared with WordPress and Joomla, most developers agree that Drupal is more difficult to master, but much more powerful and flexible. You can find a more detailed comparison of the three open source CMS options in our post, Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, Oh My!

Drupal is no ordinary CMS. By design, Drupal is the perfect content management solution for nontechnical users who require simplicity and flexibility. Through a modular approach to site building, Drupal offers its users both. For this reason, Drupal can be described as having the strengths of both a content management system and a content management framework. With Drupal, you can build almost anything. It’s just a matter of combining the right modules.

The History of Drupal

Dries Buytaert started the Drupal project in 2000 while attending the University of Antwerp. It was originally designed as a simple message board system. Originally called “Drop,” Drupal looked eerily similar to what would become Facebook. Dries and his friends would use the system to leave each other messages, coordinate dinner plans and write updates about their lives.

Over time, others became interested in the project. Strangers would email Dries patches for Drupal. These interested parties grew into a mailing list and then a much larger community. Eventually, Drupal gained the recognition and respect it deserved as a very capable CMS by the web development community.

Drupal Core Concepts

Nodes vs. Modules

A single web site could contain many different types of content (informational pages, news articles, polls, blog posts, etc.). In Drupal, each of these items of content is called a node. Each node belongs to a single content type, which defines the various settings for nodes of that type (such as whether the node is published automatically and whether comments are permitted).

So, a “node” is a piece of content. Anything can be a node; a page is a node, an article is a node, a product is a node. It is a developer’s responsibility to define their nodes and how each will be displayed and handled on your site.

A module, on the other hand, is a piece of code that serves to extend Drupal’s functionality. As a new Drupal user, you’ll start with Drupal’s core module, the simplest version of Drupal with very few features. When you add modules, your site can do more. There are plenty of modules that have already been created by Drupal’s developers to address a number of website needs. Rather than reinventing the wheel, a new Drupal user can add these modules onto their site. The modules that can be added are called “contributed” modules because they have been contributed by members of the Drupal community. As the size of Drupal’s development community is quite large, there are plenty of modules available that can handle almost anything. For example, Ubercart is a popular eCommerce module that offers a website the infrastructure necessary to sell products online.

Nodes and modules are the basic building blocks of Drupal. On top of nodes and modules are layered other Drupal controls, such as permissions for different types of users, menus and themes or “skins” of the website. Your development team has complete control to customize and tweak the site as you’d like. It’s this level of customization that makes Drupal so powerful yet so difficult to master.

 

Entity Types

An entity type is a way to group together fields. Entity types are used to store and display data, which can be nodes, comments, taxonomy terms, user profiles, etc.

 

Comment

Each comment is typically a small bit of content that a user submits and attaches to a particular node.

 

Taxonomy

Taxonomy is Drupal’s system for classifying content provided by the core Taxonomy module. With Drupal, you can define your own vocabularies and add new terms. Each vocabulary can then be attached to one or more content types. In this way, nodes on your site can be grouped into categories, tagged, and classified in any way of your choosing.

 

Users & Permissions

Next to content, users are the most important component to your website. By default, a user has a set of associated properties including a username, password, role, and e-mail address. You can extend these properties through additional modules. For example, you could add a “Link” field to a user to log their Twitter address.

With Drupal, you can easily manage users, divide them into types or groups and define different levels of permissions. Permissions can be set to control what users have access to view and/or edit in particular areas of a site. Permissions are a powerful feature to use when developing your site’s structure as they can be very specific

Every visitor to your site is considered a user, whether they have an account and log in or visit the site anonymously. Each user also has a numeric user ID special to that type of user.

Types of Users

  • Master Administrator: This user has the ID one (1). The Master Administrator is the primary admin user account created during Drupal installation. This user has permission to do absolutely everything on the site.
  • Logged In: Users that log in are assigned a user ID when they register for the website. A user name and email address is associated with any user that isn’t anonymous
  • Anonymous: Anonymous users who visit the website but do not login all share a user ID of zero (0).

You can assign permissions for other users on your site via roles. Drupal permissions are quite flexible as you can assign permission for any task to any role, depending on the needs of your site.

 

Regions & Blocks

Pages on your Drupal site are laid out in Regions. These include the header, footer, sidebars and main content regions of your site. Your chosen theme may define additional site regions.

Blocks are chunks of information that display in the regions of your site. Blocks can take the form of HTML or text, menus, the output from modules, or dynamic listings (e.g. list of upcoming events).

 

Menus

By default, content on your Drupal site is not placed in any particular structure. The best way of bringing structure to your Drupal site is to use menus.

A standard installation of Drupal has four initial menus: main menu, management, navigation and user menu. You can add more menus via Drupal’s interface. You can also choose where and how they will be displayed.

 

Themes

With Drupal, you aren’t limited to a single way of presenting your site’s content. You can define custom themes or designs for the site. You can find some contributed themes here.

The Theme layer is separate from the data layer, the functionality extension layer (module) and Core. Your Theme controls the look and feel of your site. How your site is displayed, including the graphic look, layout and colors are defined by your Theme. The Theme consists of one or more PHP template files that define the HTML output of your site’s pages, along with one or more CSS files that define the layout, fonts, colors, and other styles.

 

Views

Not all sites will have Views, but those that do benefit from the excellent tools it provides. Views allows you to choose a list of nodes or other entities and present them as pages, blocks, RSS feeds, or in other formats. With Views, you can create dynamically updating lists or content (i.e. latest news), based on properties of that content.

 

More reasons to choose Drupal

  • Drupal is a powerful and flexible content management system used to build virtually any kind of website. Drupal offers custom functionality, flexible implementation, complex components, easy configuration, customize-able content types, list, sort and search information.
  • An ordinary CMS uses plugins. Each plugin is responsible for tracking and tracking a particular kind of content, and each remains relatively isolated from the others. With Drupal, modules interface with a common underlying system so you can build, mix and match clever, customized features.
  • Like other open source CMSs, Drupal is free and install to use. A CMS like Microsoft SharePoint can handle the same level of technical complexity that Drupal can, but it’s expensive to use due to licensing fees. Almost all of Drupal’s extensions are available free of charge as well.
  • Drupal’s installation is surprisingly easy. If you wanted to, you can have your first Drupal site up and running within an hour.
  • Unified interface: No default distinction between viewing and editing a page
  • Drupal provides an excellent out-of-the-box solution to eCommerce sites
  • Drupal sites can handle heavy traffic. That’s why sites like WhiteHouse.gov and choose Drupal. Drupal has a special built-in cache system that facilitates speed. To see other projects being built in Drupal, check out our post, Three Cool Drupal-Based Software Projects
  • Drupal’s community is 800,000 people strong. This dedicated group of contributing developers who help to update and expand the software has extended Drupal’s capabilities with more than 18,000 modules.

Who shouldn’t be using Drupal?

Drupal isn’t always the best choice. Not every web project requires the sophistication, power and flexibility that Drupal provides. If your only requirement is to write a personal blog, Drupal is not the right tool for you. For large and technically complex websites, however, Drupal stands out amongst its competitors.

 

The Future of Drupal

Drupal 8, the latest version of Drupal, is specifically designed with mobile in mind. Buytaert’s goal for Drupal is to be the best CMS for mobile websites. There are even a number of ready-made themes and modules available to Drupal users designed to specifically enhance a user’s mobile experience.

Drupal is one of the best open source web development platforms. It’s best used for large sites with number of different content types planning to grow over time. With premium design capabilities and technical capacity, you can’t go wrong with Drupal

 


 

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