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Jeff Geerling's Blog: Adding a role to a user programmatically in Drupal 8

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 16:18

Since a quick Google search didn't bring up how to do this in Drupal 8 (there are dozens of posts on how to do it in Drupal 7), I thought I'd post a quick blog post on how you can modify a user's roles in Drupal 8. Hint: It's a lot easier than you'd think!

In Drupal 7, $user was an object... but it was more like an object that acted like a dumb storage container. You couldn't really do anything with it directly—instead, you had to stick it in functions (like user_multiple_role_edit()) to do things like add or remove roles or modify account information.

In Drupal 8, $user is a real, useful object. Want to modify the account name and save the change?

Categories: Elsewhere

OSTraining: Track Google Analytics Clicks and Downloads in Drupal

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 15:58

Over the last week, several people have asked us about tracking Google Analytics "events" on their Drupal site.

"Events" describe anything from clicking on an external link to leave your site or downloading a file.

We're going to use the Google Analytics module which is available for Drupal 6, 7 and 8.

Categories: Elsewhere

Pixelite: 10 things I learnt building in Drupal 8

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 14:00

I have had the chance to be involved with 2 fresh builds with Drupal 8 now, I thought I would describe some of the neat things I have found during this time and some of my lessons learned. My hope is that blog post will help you in your journey with Drupal 8.

1. Drupal Console is awesome

Every time you need to generate a custom module, or a new block in a custom module, you can quickly and easily use Drupal Console to produce the code scaffolding code for you. This quite easily makes the job of a developer a lot less stressful, and allows you to focus on actually writing code that delivers functionality.

I plucked these example commands that I use frequently from my bash history:

drupal site:mode dev drupal generate:module drupal generate:plugin:block drupal generate:routesubscriber drupal generate:form:config

Documentation is online but for the most part, the commands are self documenting, if you use the --help option, then you get a great summary on the command, and the other options you can pass in.

The other nice thing is that this is a Symfony Console application, so it should feel very familiar to you if you used another tool written in the same framework.

2. Custom block types are amazing

In Drupal 7 land there was bean which was an attempt to stop making ‘meta’ nodes to fill in content editable parts of complex landing pages. Now, fast forward to Drupal 8, and custom block types are now in Drupal Core.

This basically means as a site builder you now have another really powerful tool at your disposal in order to model content effectively in Drupal 8.

Each custom block type can have it’s own fields, it’s own display settings, and form displays.

Here are the final custom block types on a recent Drupal 8 build:

One downside is that there is no access control per custom block type (just a global permission “administer blocks”), no doubt contrib will step in to fill this hole in the future (does anyone know a module that can help here?). In the mean time there is issue on the subject.

I also found it weird that the custom blocks administration section was not directly under the ‘structure’ section of the site, there is another issue about normalising this as well. Setting up some default shortcuts really helped me save some time.

3. View modes on all the things

To create custom view modes in Drupal 7 required either a custom module or Dave Reid’s entity_view_mode contrib module. Now this is baked into Drupal 8 core.

View modes on your custom block types takes things to yet another level still as well. This is one more feather in the Drupal site builder’s cap.

4. Twig is the best

In Drupal 7 I always found it weird that you could not unleash a front end developer upon your site and expect to have a pleasant result. In order to be successful the themer would need to know PHP, preprocess hooks, template naming standards, the mystical specific order in which the templates apply and so on. This often meant that a backend and front end developer would need to work together in order to create a good outcome.

With the introduction of Twig, I now feel that theming is back in the hands of the front end developer, and knowledge of PHP is no longer needed in order to override just about any markup that Drupal 8 produces.

Pro tip - use the Drupal Console command drupal site:mode dev to enable Twig development options, and disable Drupal caching. Another positive side effect is that Twig will then render the entire list of templates that you could be using, and which one you actually are using (and where that template is located).

Pro tip: - If you want to use a template per custom block type (to which I did), then you can use this PHP snippet in your theme’s .theme file (taken from

<?php /** * Implements hook_theme_suggestions_HOOK_alter() for form templates. * * @param array $suggestions * @param array $variables */ function THEMENAME_theme_suggestions_block_alter(array &$suggestions, array $variables) { if (isset($variables['elements']['content']['#block_content'])) { array_splice($suggestions, 1, 0, 'block__bundle__' . $variables['elements']['content']['#block_content']->bundle()); } } 5. Panelizer + panels IPE is a formidable site building tool

When looking for a layout manager to help build the more complex landing pages, I came across panelizer + panels IPE. Using panelizer you are able to:

  • create per node layout variants
  • apply a single layout to all nodes of a particular bundle (e.g. all your news articles have the same layout)

The other neat thing is that the layouts themselves are now standardised between all the various layout managers using a contrib module called layout_plugin. Also they are just YAML and Twig. Simple. There is even an effort to get this merged into Drupal 8.2 which I think would be a great idea.

Downside - all JS is still rendered on the page even though the user (e.g. anonymous users) have no access to panelizer. There is a patch on to help fix this.

Since starting this build there has also been a stable release of display suite come out for Drupal 8 as well giving you even more options.

6. You can build a rather complex site with very little contributed modules

For this most recent site I build I got away with using only 10 contributed modules (one of which - devel was purely for debugging purposes).

  • ctools
  • google_analytics
  • metatag
  • panels
  • token
  • contact_block
  • devel
  • layout_plugin
  • panelizer
  • pathauto

This means you are inherently building a more stable and supportable site, as most of the functionality now comes out of Drupal core.

7. The contact module now is supercharged

In Drupal 7, the contact module was one of those modules to which I never turned on, as it was rather inflexible. You could not change the fields in a UI, nor add email recipients, or have more than 1 form. Now in Drupal 8 you can have as many “contact” forms as you want, each one is fieldable, and can send emails to as many people as needed.

You can also enhance the core module with:

  • contact_block - allows you to place the contact form in a block
  • contact_storage - allows you to store the submissions in the database, rather than firing an email and forgetting about it

There is still a place for webform, namely:

  • large complex form with lots of fields
  • multi-step forms
  • forms you want to ‘save draft’

You can read more about this in the OS training blog post on the contact module.

Downside - I wanted to have a plain page use the path /contact but the contact module registers this path, so pathauto gave my contact page a path of /contact-0. Luckily creating a route subscriber with Drupal Console was painless, so altering the contact module route was very simple to do. I can paste the code here if needed, but most of it is the code that Drupal Console generates for you.

8. PHPunit is bundled into core

Now that Drupal 8 is largely Object Oriented (OO), you are able to test classes using PHPunit. I have wrote about phpunit in the past if you want to know more.

9. Views is in core

This was the main reason why adoption of Drupal 7 was so slow after it’s initial 7.0 release, as everyone needed views to be stable before jumping ship. Now with views bundled into core, views plugins are also being ported at a great rate of knots too.

10. CKEditor is in core

I often found that this was one library that never (or hardly ever) got updated on sites that had been around for a while. More worryingly, CKEditor (the library) would from time to time fix security related issues. Now that this comes with Drupal 8 core, it is just one less thing to worry about.

Also I would love to shout out to Wim Leers (and other contributors) for revamping the image dialog with alignment and caption options. I cannot tell you how much pain and suffering this caused me in Drupal 7.


If you have built a site recently in Drupal 8 and have found anything interesting or exciting, please let me know in the comments. Also keen to see what sites people have built, so post a link to it if it is public.

Categories: Elsewhere

IXIS: British Council win RealIT Award 2016 for Infrastructure as an Enabler

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 13:10

Members of the British Council Digital team were delighted to receive the RITA2016 award last Thursday for the huge change in IT cloud infrastructure that Ixis delivered in the summer of 2015.

read more

Categories: Elsewhere

Radium on Drupal: My road to Drupal and GSoC

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 13:02
I am very happy that my GSoC project, Web Component-ize Drupal 8, got accepted this year. I would like to say thanks to my mentors skyredwang and wimleers, as well as all the members of the community who are supportive of the Google Summer of Code program, in particular Slurpee who has spent a lot of time coordinating and helping students.
Categories: Elsewhere

IXIS: When Poor Security Practices Go Bad

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 11:27

In this blog post I'll discuss some methods of ensuring that your software is kept up to date, and some recent examples of why you should consider security to be among your top priorities instead of viewing it as an inconvenience or hassle.

Critics often attack the stability and security of Open Source due to the frequent releases and updates as projects evolve through constant contributions to their code from the community. They claim that open source requires too many patches to stay secure, and too much maintenance as a result.

read more

Categories: Elsewhere

Drop Guard: Top 5 sessions of DrupalCon New Orleans (security and maintenance related)

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 11:03
Top 5 sessions of DrupalCon New Orleans (security and maintenance related) Igor Kandyba Wed, 18.05.2016 - 11:03

Drop Guard team didn't make it to DC North America this year, but we've spent quite a time talking to our colleagues there, interacting with people via Twitter and Facebook, and obviously - enjoying the sessions as soon as they're available for the online viewing.

We are really excited about the number of the highest quality sessions on various topics, and to be honest we recommend to watch all of them (although be aware of the time you need to complete the whole list).

However, for those interested in all things security, support and maintenance related, and not having too much time to enjoy the full playlist, we've hand-picked a limited amount of videos which we found most insightful and would recommend to the Drop Guard blog readers.

Drupalcon video Drupal Planet
Categories: Elsewhere

Jason Pamental's Blog: DrupalCon Recap

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 03:50

I had the honor of speaking last week at DrupalCon in New Orleans, and got to see a whole slew of great presentations. For a recap at our local DrupalPVD meetup I put together a few slides listing some of my favorites, and a few others that I know had generated a lot of buzz. All the session videos are live, so be sure to have a look at the DrupalCon NOLA site to see all the rest of them.

Categories: Elsewhere

Acquia Developer Center Blog: Drupal 8 of the week: Drupal 8.1.x!

Tue, 17/05/2016 - 20:59

Semantic versioning special! Every day, developers in the Drupal community work on improving our open source software. So far in this series, we have been concentrating on profiling some of the most useful modules, projects, and tools available for Drupal 8. This week, however, we're talking about something brand new in Drupal: significant new features being added to our current major release and the ability to do this on a predictable, regular basis! Welcome, Drupal 8.1.x!

Tags: acquia drupal planetultimate guidedrupal 8D88.1.xsemversemantic versioning
Categories: Elsewhere

Radium on Drupal: Retrieving Entities from MongoDB in Drupal 8

Tue, 17/05/2016 - 18:49
Normally in Drupal, all the entities are stored in the same database, which is usually MySQL or other Relational Databases. What if we have data elsewhere, and want to access them in Drupal? I often use MongoDB, and I think it is a good idea if I could directly retrieve or edit from Drupal, without having to import data into Drupal. What we could utilize is a module called External Entities. It does what its name says: allowing Drupal to treat external resources as a special type of entities. Similar modules include Remote Entity API (which doesn't have a Drupal 8 version yet). Currently, External Entities comes with two build-in drivers: REST and Wiki. We will be creating a new driver for MongoDB. Today, we will just deal with retrieving data, not modifying.
Categories: Elsewhere

Acquia Developer Center Blog: Drupal in China: Impressions after a Hackaton and a DrupalCamp

Tue, 17/05/2016 - 16:49

In the Open Source community, the best way to get involved, and learn, is to dive in, head-first, at the deep end.

This is exactly the reason why we run hackathons: to introduce new concepts to developers in an environment where they can be nurtured. By combining a hackathon with a DrupalCamp, developers get enveloped in a blanket of Drupal and Open Source for a few days, essential for rapid development of skills in new technology.

Tags: acquia drupal planet
Categories: Elsewhere

LevelTen Interactive: Drupal Commerce - How to set up Search API to search SKUs with and without dashes

Tue, 17/05/2016 - 07:00

So, you've built your Drupal Commerce site and are now setting up Search. You probably aren't going to use Drupal core's search since it won't give you enough control over what and how search results are returned. You are going to set up your own search server and index using Search API.

In this example, I am using Solr Search with Acquia Search for Search API. It doesn't matter how you have your index and server set up - as long as you can index your Commerce Products and Product displays, the custom module that I will describe shortly should work. For my setup, I have downloaded...Read more

Categories: Elsewhere

FFW Agency: Community, Connections, Console & Personalization. FFW Rocks DrupalCon.

Tue, 17/05/2016 - 05:08
Community, Connections, Console & Personalization. FFW Rocks DrupalCon. brent.bice Tue, 05/17/2016 - 03:08

A week of beignets, beer and learning Drupal! FFW let the good times roll at DrupalCon 2016 New Orleans. In case you missed out, here are four must watch presentations to jazz up your week.

Is size just a number?: Reflecting on community growth, mentoring, and where we spend our efforts

FFW’s Dave Hernandez discusses the challenges our Drupal community faces as one of the largest open source communities in the world. From capacity to growing pains, Dave tackles potential problems such as the limited number of high-end contributors and burnout.

He also discusses ways we might shift our focus, like supporting smaller, more productive events, one-on-one mentoring programs to help nurture existing contributors, and other ways to make sure we get the most out of our limited volunteer hours and efforts.

GE Energy Connections & FFW: Delivering Business Results Beyond Clicks and Conversions 

GE Energy Connections Digital Strategy Leader, Holly Bounds and FFW’s Brent Bice share stories about how Drupal not only generates traffic, conversion and increased revenue, but provides significant intrinsic value to organizations through:

  • Reduced support and maintenance
  • Improved internal collaboration
  • Increased productivity
  • And significant cost savings.

​Looking for ways to reduce support costs by 22% and save millions of dollars per year? Watch this presentation!

Writing Command Line Tools for Drupal 8 Modules

FFW’s Jesus Olivas, maintainer of Drupal Console, and other panelists discuss a new collaborative effort to unify the way that command line tools should be written for Drupal 8 modules. Jesus provides a great walk through of writing a scripting interface for your Drupal 8 modules code using an object-oriented API built on top of Symfony Console components.

Going beyond the implementation of the CLI tool, they also provide guidance on best practices for decoupled module development and the latest progress and future plans for collaborative efforts between the teams to use common implementations for some of the more complex common functions, such as site installation, configuration management, and bootstrapping, and what you can do to help make the future of command line tools easier for everyone to manage.

Web Personalization for Drupal: Your Roadmap to Get Started

Dave Sawyer, FFW’s leading personalization expert, and Acquia’s John Money deliver a fantastic presentation for getting started with personalizing user experiences in Drupal. In this presentation, Dave covers use cases, prerequisites and much more as he explains why Drupal is the best CMS to execute a personalization strategy.

Tagged with Comments
Categories: Elsewhere

ActiveLAMP: Going back to Drupal, it's fun again!

Tue, 17/05/2016 - 04:00

Actually, we never left. We didn’t stop building Drupal sites, even through the long release cycle. However, we did move our company website,, off of Drupal about 18 months ago. Our company site had been built on Drupal since the Drupal 4.7 days. That was back when it started to become uncool to write and maintain your own home-grown CMS. I eventually found Drupal, ditched my custom CMS, and never looked back.

Our site started on Drupal 4.7, upgraded onto Drupal 5, then Drupal 6, and also Drupal 7 all at the beginning of the release cycles of Drupal. About 18 months ago, when our site was in dire need of an update, we evaluated Drupal 8 but realized with no release date in sight, and the fact that we did not want to chase HEAD and develop on unstable API’s, we decided to go a different route and build our updated site on Jekyll, a popular static generator. It’s more fun to tinker with new technology when working on non-billable stuff, which is what we did. We brushed up on our Ruby skills and built out a Jekyll site (which is this site you’re looking at if you’re reading this blog post before Q3 of 2016).

We’re getting ready for another update to our company website and moving back to Drupal to do it. Jekyll was great, but it came with its disadvantages over something like Drupal. This post will highlight some of the advantages and disadvantages of working with Jekyll the past 18 months, as well as highlight why we’re excited to put on Drupal 8 in Q3 of this year.

Categories: Elsewhere

Virtuoso Performance: DrupalCon NOLA migration sprint summary

Tue, 17/05/2016 - 01:00
DrupalCon NOLA migration sprint summary

DrupalCon NOLA is over - perhaps too soon for those of us who love this great city, or perhaps just soon enough for those who have given Drupal and the city of New Orleans every last ounce of energy they had this past week.

We had a very productive week sprinting for migration - it may not be reflected in the number of commits made by the end of the extended sprints, but we'll see the fruits over the coming weeks. Our focus was on triaging the issue queue, and on diving deeply into some of the more complex outstanding issues, rather than picking the low-hanging fruit.


I previously wrote about the upfront triage the first Sunday - I prepped a Google sheet with various breakdowns of outstanding core migration system issues, and with xjm and alexpott leading the way we got about halfway through the "Migrate critical" issues. We picked up with the other half on Friday, with a few more people attending - Ryan Weal, ultimike, penyaskito, vasi, and a few more gathered around the table. Because we were working through from the oldest created issues to newest, the first round caught most of the hardest issues and the Friday session went quicker. As of Sunday morning, we were down to 18 open migrate-criticals, of which 14 were touched in the past week (11 in the previous 48 hours), so we've got momentum going.

Specific issues addressed at NOLA

I had meant to cover everything worked on this week - but I had to cut it off, for space and time. This represents fewer than half the migration issues that saw work during DrupalCon.

Migrate D6 i18n nodes

This is the biggest outstanding issue at the moment. The problem here is quite complex - the representation of translated content has completely changed in Drupal 8. In particular, translations of a node are no longer separate nodes - all translations of a specific piece of content are represented by a single node, so merging the revision histories of multiple nodes into one is... challenging. vasi has come up with a clever solution here - my current project needs this, so I had real-world data to test against. This week:

  1. vasi got the tests green
  2. I rerolled the patch against 8.1.x (the issue is targeting 8.2.x, but my client is on 8.1.x at the moment).
  3. bwinett performed a manual test - migrating from D6 to 8.1.1 (using my reroll) using the core upgrade UI - and successfully validated that the right translations and revision history were in the right place.
  4. I performed a manual test with my client's data, with less successful results. Our scenario is a custom migration into a site containing manually-entered data, so we cannot preserve node and revision IDs. It turns out that the patch is assuming source revision IDs match the destination, when it attempts to consolidate multiple translations into a single revision.
  5. For the patch to do that, it needs to perform a lookup in the migration map table given just a revision ID. The revision map table has a two-column key - revision ID and language - and the API (MigrateIdMapInterface) doesn't currently support partial lookups.
  6. So, vasi opened an issue to extend the API and implemented a solution there, which is has now been committed.

At this writing, vasi is working on the next version of the node i18n patch using the idmap extension, and I'll be testing it against my client's data.

Migrate content type language settings from Drupal 6 & 7

Speaking of i18n, penyaskito, quietone (remotely), and vasi have moved this issue forward, rerolling the previous 8.0.x patch for 8.2.x and continuing to refine it. Next step (per penyaskito): Add an assertion that language_alterable is TRUE when there's no i18n_lock_node_TYPE.

Invalid passwords after D7 to D8 migration

alexpott took this one on and produced a patch which quietone has now manually verified - next step is complete code review.

Random failure in \Drupal\migrate_drupal_ui\Tests\d7\MigrateUpgrade7Test

A major annoyance with testing on, this test has started randomly failing. This tests the upgrade UI, which is batched, and what happens per batch is non-deterministic (affected by timing/load), so it's difficult to track down. We had some discussion about this at the closing weekend Saturday extended sprint, and alexpott has been actively pursuing it.

Refactor EntityFile and use process plugins instead

I created a patch for this, which vasi and quietone have helped refine, and benjifisher applied CodeSniffer. Next step is for me to respond to benjy's review.

Destination bundle set in destination plugin, not in process

I've created a first draft of this patch, which the testbot tells me still needs work.

Reduce/remove tight coupling of migration destination plugins

quietone provided a suggested draft for the change record, and I tweaked the patch to deprecate rather than entirely remove md_entity:field_storage_config.

Cckfield Plugins must distinguish core versions

jmuzz has continued refining this patch.

Mentored sprint

The mentored core sprint (with mentors including heddn, vegantriathlete, and willwh) on Friday also contributed. 

Fixes to docs and code style for migrate/src/*.php files

A few sprinters participated in rerolling the existing patch for 8.1.x (with some guidance from hussainweb): jeffrey.vargas, kurthill4, nJim, and The Sean.

Rename MigrationCreationTrait as it no longer creates migrations - it configures them

Participants in this patch include barbarae, hussainweb, douggreen, and hanoii.

Value should be null when is produced skip process

rakesh.gectcr submitted a reroll of this patch, cmanalansan also worked on it. This one is committed!

D6->D8: Migrating links without leading slash leads to fatal error

ancapaaron and bsnodgrass did manual testing on D6 and D7 respectively - looks like this is something we only need to worry about on D6.

Non-NOLA progress

Not everyone gets to go to every DrupalCon - while we fortunate ones were sprinting on-site, work progressed around the world...

Sql::getRowBySource doesn't adhere to MigrateIdMapInterface::getRowBySource

On the BC-breakers list but the NOLA sprinters didn't get to this - quietone working remotely rerolled the 7-month-old patch that was there, it's now ready for review.

Migrated custom block body field is hidden on form and display

rocketerrbkw identified this problem and has provided a patch - ready for review.

Last imported timestamps not set in map tables

milesw found a nasty "oops!" in a recent patch - looks good, just needs tests.

Variable to config: statistics.settings [d7]

vprocessor rerolled the existing patch and quietone reviewed.

Next steps

A lot of the work done at DrupalCon (not to mention a lot of work done previous to DrupalCon as well) needs review - let's get in there and see what we can move forward to RTBC.

I feel like we have a lot of momentum going now - but in my experience that DrupalCon momentum can dissipate pretty quickly. Let's keep it going - I'd like to propose ongoing migration sprints on a regular basis. Specifically:

  1. Each sprint lasts a calendar day - during that day (according to your local calendar), those interested in pushing D8 migration forward try to find at least one chunk of time to work on migration issues, coordinating on IRC in #drupal-migrate.
  2. For now, the theme will be Migrate-critical issues. Once we trim that list down to just a couple, we can pick different themes.
  3. Since not every day of the week is equally open for everyone, let's rotate it - I suggest doing it every 8 days. So, Monday May 23 (8 days after the last DrupalCon extended sprint), Tuesday May 31, Wednesday June 8, etc...
  4. I'll try to put out a blog post the day before each sprint day going over the status of key migrate-criticals.
Obligatory travelogue

I just couldn't keep up the daily blogging pace from mid-week on... Most of the meals have faded from my memory (and frankly I was finding better food earlier in the week than I was later), but I will leave you with my musical memories.

Wednesday night, sleep-deprived, I was heading back to my hotel on Esplanade when I ran into a couple of former Acquia colleagues on Royal. With very little arm-twisting, they convinced me to lead them to Frenchmen Street, where we picked a club pretty much at random (30°/-90°). It was shortly after 9pm and the band started up right after we got there, so I figured I'd stay for one set and still get a good night's sleep. It turned out they only played one set - and it lasted almost to 1am. And that band (Soul Company, with a somewhat different lineup than you see there) was simply awesome - high-energy jazz-funk (or funk-jazz?), very tight as they ran through covers of Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, CCR/Ike & Tina, and many more. They closed with a medley of Kiss and Purple Rain, with a guest singer whose falsetto would have made Prince (R.I.P.) himself jealous. The late night pretty much wiped out my Thursday, but it was well worth it.

Saturday night I closed out the week with an actual plan - local legend John Boutté, (yes, I only knew him from Treme) was at d.b.a., so I made sure to get there good and early. This show was, unfortunately, a mixed bag - people gabbing loudly in the back of the room made it difficult to enjoy the performance, especially on the quieter tunes.

<rant>Who are these idiots who pay a cover for a show and then pay absolutely no attention to the artist!? WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE!!!?</rant>

Sigh... Anyway, Boutté and his band (3+ piece horn section, guitar, and bass) did a fine job despite the distractions. Highlights were gentle takes on Time After Time and Hallelujah, with the emotional center being a combination of a nearly-a-cappella You've Got to Be Carefully Taught followed by a funky Southern Man.

And so, as my train departed Sunday, I left satisfied - a great week in and out of the convention center, can't wait until DrupalCon comes back here (hint, hint...)!

mikeryan Mon, 05/16/2016 - 18:00 Tags
Categories: Elsewhere 12 Things I learned at my first DrupalCon

Mon, 16/05/2016 - 23:00

For years I have been hearing about DrupalCon from Brice and Amitai. Every six months they would send me a massive group photo and challenged me to locate them among the crazy mustaches, viking helmets, and identical t-shirts. Needless to say, I failed every time and the number of people in those pictures grew every year. I’m also happy to say that that last group photo - from a week ago - included me as well (Bonus points if you can spot me).

2016 DrupalCon Group Photo.

My first Con was an overwhelmingly great experience and I learned a ton of new things. Here are the top 12:

1) Count down from 100 if you can’t fall asleep at night

DrupalCon’s sessions and keynotes are diverse and engaging. For instance, the Community Keynote by @schnitzel (Michael Schmid), was full of tips to keep your brain ready and aware, such as: Start your day doing things you dislike, drink plenty of water that will force you to take a lot of pee breaks, and play with kids to clear your mind.

The enormous amount of people and ideas exchanged in DrupalCon are so invigorating that you might find it hard to sleep at night. Try counting backwards slowly from hundred to zero. I have already put it to the test and it works - that tip alone was worth the trip.

Michael Schmid (@schnitzel) delivers the Community Keynote 2) Gator omelette for breakfast

New Orleans is a seafood and meat town. Crab, crawfish, sausages, bbq, and alligator - the Queen City is not known for its consumptions of vegetables.

Breakfast portions are huge and everything is golden-brown. But in New Orleans there is a special name for that little strip of green ground in the middle of a boulevard - “neutral ground” (thanks Trivia Night!). Perhaps they can grow fresh vegetables there!

A typical three-person breakfast. We’ve never finished it!

Continue reading…

Categories: Elsewhere

OSTraining: How to Use Pathauto in Drupal 8

Mon, 16/05/2016 - 20:10

Many modules have been in flux during the early stages of Drupal 8's development.

Few modules have changed as much as Pathauto, which the vast majority of Drupal sites use to control their URLs.

In this tutorial, I'll show you the current way to use Pathauto with your Drupal 8 site.

Categories: Elsewhere

Dries Buytaert: Cross-channel user experiences with Drupal

Mon, 16/05/2016 - 16:55

Last year around this time, I wrote that The Big Reverse of Web would force a major re-architecture of the web to bring the right information, to the right person, at the right time, in the right context. I believe that conversational interfaces like Amazon Echo are further proof that the big reverse is happening.

New user experience and distribution platforms only come along every 5-10 years, and when they do, they cause massive shifts in the web's underlying technology. The last big one was mobile, and the web industry adapted. Conversational interfaces could be the next user experience and distribution platform – just look at Amazon Echo (aka Alexa), Facebook's messenger or Microsoft's Conversation-as-a-Platform.

Today, hardly anyone questions whether to build a mobile-optimized website. A decade from now, we might be saying the same thing about optimizing digital experiences for voice or chat commands. The convenience of a customer experience will be a critical key differentiator. As a result, no one will think twice about optimizing their websites for multiple interaction patterns, including conversational interfaces like voice and chat. Anyone will be able to deliver a continuous user experience across multiple multiple channels, devices and interaction patterns. In some of these cross-channel experiences, users will never even look at a website. Conversational interfaces let users disintermediate the website by asking anything and getting instant, often personalized, results.

To prototype this future, my team at Acquia built a fully functional demo based on Drupal 8 and recorded a video of it. In the demo video below, we show a sample supermarket chain called Gourmet Market. Gourmet Market wants their customers to not only shop online using their website, but also use Echo or push notifications to do business with them.

We built an Alexa integration module to connect Alexa to the Gourmet Market site and to answer questions about sale items. For example, you can speak the command: "Alexa, ask Gourmet Market what fruits are on sale today". From there, Alexa would make a call to the Gourmet Market website, finding what is on sale in the specified category and pull only the needed information related to your ask.

On the website's side, a store manager can tag certain items as "on sale", and Alexa's voice responses will automatically and instantly reflect those changes. The marketing manager needs no expertise in programming -- Alexa composes its response by talking to Drupal 8 using web service APIs.

The demo video also shows how a site could deliver smart notifications. If you ask for an item that is not on sale, the Gourmet Market site can automatically notify you via text once the store manager tags it as "On Sale".

From a technical point of view, we've had to teach Drupal how to respond to a voice command, otherwise known as a "Skill", coming into Alexa. Alexa Skills are fairly straightforward to create. First, you specify a list of "Intents", which are basically the commands you want users to run in a way very similar to Drupal's routes. From there, you specify a list of "Utterances", or sentences you want Echo to react to that map to the Intents. In the example of Gourmet Market above, the Intents would have a command called GetSaleItems. Once the command is executed, your Drupal site will receive a webhook callback on /alexa/callback with a payload of the command and any arguments. The Alexa module for Drupal 8 will validate that the request really came from Alexa, and fire a Drupal Event that allows any Drupal module to respond.

It's exciting to think about how new user experiences and distribution platforms will change the way we build the web in the future. As I referenced in Drupalcon New Orleans keynote, the Drupal community needs to put some thought into how to design and build multichannel customer experiences. Voice assistance, chatbots or notifications are just one part of the greater equation. If you have any further thoughts on this topic, please share them in the comments.

Categories: Elsewhere

Red Route: Jumping through hoops with the golden flexbox hammer

Mon, 16/05/2016 - 16:11

I've been a big proponent of using Flexbox for a while, especially since hearing Zoe Mickley Gillenwater speaking about it at Smashing Conference Oxford 2014.

In particular, I use justify-content: space-between a lot. But one issue with it is what happens in the last row. If the number of child items doesn't divide nicely into the number of items per row, there will be a big gap between them, as you can see from this Codepen example:

See the Pen space-between by malcomio (@malcomio) on CodePen.

It can look pretty ugly, especially if the parent element is wide. One possible solution is to have the items in the last row fill the available space. But for the tiles layout on the Gallery Guide, that wouldn't work - it would make the last row items much too big. Ideally, the last row would be given a different behaviour - perhaps using a different justify-content value, perhaps using floats, but as far as I'm aware, there isn't a nice CSS way to achieve this.

The suggestion I found on StackOverflow is to add extra elements. Given that the rows are being generated by a Drupal view, we can achieve this using a preprocess function, adding dummy rows, which don't affect small screens because their height is set to zero.

Here's a Codepen example showing the idea:

See the Pen space-between with dummy rows by malcomio (@malcomio) on CodePen.

The relevant views all use the unformatted list format, so in the implementation of template_preprocess_views_view_unformatted we add a variable to say how many extra rows are needed to make it fit nicely:

define('GALL_VIEWS_ITEMS_PER_ROW', 4); /** * Implements template_preprocess_views_view_unformatted(). */ function gall_preprocess_views_view_unformatted(&$variables) { // Add dummy rows so that flexbox looks nice. $view_id = $variables['view']->id(); $tiles_views = _gall_tiles_views(); if (in_array($view_id, $tiles_views)) { $remainder = count($variables['view']->result) % GALL_VIEWS_ITEMS_PER_ROW; $rows_to_add = GALL_VIEWS_ITEMS_PER_ROW - $remainder; if ($remainder && $rows_to_add) { $variables['extra_rows'] = $rows_to_add; } } }

Once we've added this counter, we can use it to create a loop in our views-view-unformatted.html.twig template:

{% if extra_rows %} {% for i in 1..extra_rows %} {% endfor %} {% endif %}

And, as if by magic, the view rows are aligned left. Problem solved.

But maybe the problem was one of my own making. Even before I'd finished building this, I was realising that maybe it would have been easier to just use floats. To paraphrase Abraham Maslow, or perhaps Abraham Kaplan, someone who has just discovered a hammer will always be looking for nails. As always, there's another way I could have solved this, and the new way isn't always better than the old way. Having said that, I do like the way that flexbox helps to keep my margins tidy...

Tags:  Drupal Drupal 8 The Gallery Guide CSS flexbox All tags
Categories: Elsewhere

Tim Millwood: Workflow Initiative - DrupalCon New Orleans 2016

Mon, 16/05/2016 - 10:36
Last week I presented the plan for the Drupal Workflow Initiative at DrupalCon New Orleans. Please...
Categories: Elsewhere