Sun Microsystems Selects Pixeldust to Design New Product Icons

Pixeldust is pleased to announce that we will design product icons for Sun Microsystems' new XVM server software line. The icons are set to make their debut by the end of September. Read more


State of Drupal presentation (October 2019)

Last week, many Drupalists came together for Drupalcon Amsterdam.

As a matter of tradition, I presented my State of Drupal keynote. You can watch a recording of my keynote (starting at 20:44 minutes), or download a copy of my slides (149 MB).

Drupal 8 innovation update

I kicked off my keynote with an update on Drupal 8. Drupal 8.8 is expected to ship on December 4th, and will come with many exciting improvements.

Drupal 8.7 shipped with a Media Library to allow editors to reuse images, videos and other media assets. In Drupal 8.8, Media Library has been marked as stable, and features a way to easily embed media assets using a WYSIWYG text editor.

I'm even more proud to say that Drupal has never looked better, nor been more accessible. I showed our progress on Claro, a new administration UI for Drupal. Once Claro is stable, Drupal will look more modern and appealing out-of-the-box.

The Composer Initiative has also made significant progress. Drupal 8.8 will be the first Drupal release with proper, official support for Composer out-of-the-box. Composer helps solve the problem of Drupal being difficult to install and update. With Composer, developers can update Drupal in one step, as Composer will take care of updating all the dependencies (e.g. third party code).

What is better than one-step updates? Zero-step updates. We also showed progress on the Automated Updates Initiative.

Finally, Drupal 8.8 marks significant progress with our API-first Initiative, with several new improvements to JSON:API support in the contributed space, including an interactive query builder called JSON:API Explorer. This work solidifies Drupal's leadership position as a leading headless or decoupled solution.

Drupal 9 will be the easiest major update

Next, I gave an update on Drupal 9, as we're just eight months from the target release date. We have been working hard to make Drupal 9 the easiest major update in the last decade. In my keynote at 42:25, I showed how to upgrade your site to Drupal 9.0.0's development release.

Drupal 9 product strategy

I am proud of all the progress we made on Drupal 8. Nevertheless, it's also time to start thinking about our strategic priorities for Drupal 9. With that in mind, I proposed four strategic tracks for Drupal 9 (and three initial initiatives):

Strategic track 1: reduce cost and effort

Users want site development to be low-cost and zero-maintenance. As a result, we'll need to continue to focus on initiatives such as automated updates, configuration management, and more.

Strategic track 2: prioritizing the beginner experience

As we saw in a survey Acqua's UX team conducted, most people have a relatively poor initial impression of Drupal, though if they stick with Drupal long enough, their impression of Drupal grows significantly over time. This unlike any of its competitors, whose impression decreases as experience is gained. Drupal 9 should focus on attracting new users, and decreasing beginners' barriers to entry so they can fall in love with Drupal much sooner.

Beginners struggle with Drupal while experts love Drupal.Drupal's sentiment curve goes in the opposite direction of WordPress', AEM's and Sitecore's. This presents both a big challenge and opportunity for Drupal.
We also officially launched the first initiative on this track; a new front-end theme for Drupal called "Olivero". This new default theme will give new users a much better first impression of Drupal, as well as reflect the modern backend that Drupal sports under the hood.

Strategic track 3: drive the Open Web

As you may know, 1 out of 40 websites run on Drupal. With that comes a responsibility to help drive the future of the Open Web. By 2022-2025, 4 billion new people will join the internet. We want all people to have access to the open web, and as a result should focus on accessibility, inclusiveness, security, privacy, and interoperability.

Strategic track 4: be the best structured data engine

We've already seen the beginnings of a content explosion, and will experience 300 billion new devices coming online by 2030. By continuing to make Drupal a better and better content repository with a flexible API, we'll be ready for a future with more content, more integrations, more devices, and more channels.

Over the next six months, we'll be opening up these proposed tracks to the community for discussion, and introducing surveys to define the 10 inaugural initiatives for Drupal 9. So far the feedback at DrupalCon Amsterdam has been very positive, but I'm looking forward to much more feedback!

Growing sponsored contributions

In a previous blog post, Balancing Makers and Takers to scale and sustain Open Source, I covered a number of topics related to organizational contribution. Around 1:19:44, my keynote goes into more details, including interviews with several prominent business owners and corporate contributors in the Drupal community.

You can find the different interview snippet belows:

Baddy Sonja Breidert, co-founder of 1xINTERNET, on why it is important to help convert Takers become Makers.
Tiffany Farriss, CEO of Palantir, on what it would take for her organization to contribute substantially more to Drupal.
Mike Lamb, Vice President of Global Digital Platforms at Pfizer, announcing that we are establishing the Contribution Recognition Committee to govern and improve Drupal's contribution credit system.
Thank you

Thank you to everyone who attended Drupalcon Amsterdam and contributed to the event's success. I'm always amazed by the vibrant community that makes Drupal so unique. I'm proud to showcase the impressive work of contributors in my presentations, and congratulate all of the hardworking people that are crucial to building Drupal 8 and 9 behind the scenes. I'm excited to continue to celebrate our work and friendships at future events.

Thanks to the 641 individuals who worked on Drupal 8.8 so far.Thanks to the 243 different individuals who contributed to Drupal 8.8 to date.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Low-code and no-code tools continue to drive the web forward

A version of this article was originally published on Devops.com.

Twelve years ago, I wrote a post called Drupal and Eliminating Middlemen. For years, it was one of the most-read pieces on my blog. Later, I followed that up with a blog post called The Assembled Web, which remains one of the most read posts to date.

The point of both blog posts was the same: I believed that the web would move toward a model where non-technical users could assemble their own sites with little to no coding experience of their own.

This idea isn't new; no-code and low-code tools on the web have been on a 25-year long rise, starting with the first web content management systems in the early 1990s. Since then no-code and low-code solutions have had an increasing impact on the web. Examples include:

WYSIWYG site-builders like Wix and Squarespace
WordPress' Gutenberg
Drupal's new Layout Builder
While this has been a long-run trend, I believe we're only at the beginning.

Trends driving the low-code and no-code movements

According to Forrester Wave: Low-Code Development Platforms for AD&D Professionals, Q1 2019, In our survey of global developers, 23% reported using low-code platforms in 2018, and another 22% planned to do so within a year..

Major market forces driving this trend include a talent shortage among developers, with an estimated one million computer programming jobs expected to remain unfilled by 2020 in the United States alone.

What is more, the developers who are employed are often overloaded with work and struggle with how to prioritize it all. Some of this burden could be removed by low-code and no-code tools.

In addition, the fact that technology has permeated every aspect of our lives — from our smartphones to our smart homes — has driven a desire for more people to become creators. As the founder of Product Hunt Ryan Hoover said in a blog post: As creating things on the internet becomes more accessible, more people will become makers..

But this does not only apply to individuals. Consider this: the typical large organization has to build and maintain hundreds of websites. They need to build, launch and customize these sites in days or weeks, not months. Today and in the future, marketers can embrace no-code and low-code tools to rapidly develop websites.

Abstraction drives innovation

As discussed in my middleman blog post, developers won't go away. Just as the role of the original webmaster has evolved with the advent of web content management systems, the role of web developers is changing with the rise of low-code and no-code tools.

Successful no-code approaches abstract away complexity for web development. This enables less technical people to do things that previously could only by done by developers. And when those abstractions happen, developers often move on to the next area of innovation.

When everyone is a builder, more good things will happen on the web. I was excited about this trend more than 12 years ago, and remain excited today. I'm eager to see the progress no-code and low-code solutions will bring to the web in the next decade.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Acquia a leader in 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management

For the sixth year in a row, Acquia has been recognized as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. Acquia first entered the Web Content Management Magic Quadrant back in 2012 as a Visionary, and since then we've moved further than any other vendor to cement our leadership position.

As I've written before, analyst reports like the Gartner Magic Quadrant are important because they introduce organizations to Acquia and Drupal. As I've put if before If you want to find a good coffee place, you use Yelp. If you want to find a nice hotel in New York, you use TripAdvisor. Similarly, if a CIO or CMO wants to spend $250,000 or more on enterprise software, they often consult an analyst firm like Gartner..

In 2012, Gartner didn't fully understand the benefits of Acquia being the only WCM company who embraced both Open Source and cloud. Just seven years later, our unique approach has forever changed web content management. This year, Acquia moved up again in both of the dimensions that Gartner uses to rank vendors: Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute. You'll see in the Magic Quadrant graphic that Acquia has tied Sitecore for the first time:

Acquia recognized as a leader, next to Adobe, Sitecore and Episerver, in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management.I believe we would have placed even higher had our Mautic acquisition completed a bit earlier.

In mature markets like Web Content Management, there is almost always a single proprietary leader and a single Open Source leader. There is Oracle and MongoDB. Splunk and Elastic. VMWare and Docker. Gitlab and Github. That is why I believe that next year it will be Acquia and Adobe at the very top of the WCM Magic Quadrant. Sitecore and Episerver will continue to fight for third place among companies who prefer a Microsoft-centric approach. I was not surprised to see Sitecore move down this year as they work to overcome technical product debt and cloud transition, leading to strange decisions like acquiring a services company.

You can read the complete report on Acquia.com. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this result!
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Announcing a private beta of Acquia Content Cloud

Earlier this week at our Acquia Engage conference in London, Acquia announced a new product called "Content Cloud", a headless, SaaS-based content-as-a-service solution built on Drupal.

Years ago, we heard that organizations wanted to:

Create content that is easy to re-use across different channels, such as websites and mobile applications, email, digital screens, and more.

Use a content management system with a modern web service API that allows them to use their favorite front-end framework (e.g. React, Angular, Vue.js, etc) to build websites and digital experiences.
As a result, Acquia spent the last 5+ years helping to improve Drupal's web services capabilities and authoring experience.

But we also heard that organizations want to:

Use single repository to manage all their organization's content.
Make it really easy to synchronize content between all their Drupal sites.
Manage all content editors from a central place to enable centralized content governance and workflows.
Automate the installation, maintenance, and upgrades of their Drupal-based content repository.
All of the above becomes even more important as organizations scale the number of content creators, websites and applications. Many large organizations have to build and maintain hundreds of sites and manage hundreds of content creators.

So this week, at our European customer conference, we lifted the curtain on Acquia Content Cloud, a new Acquia product. Acquia Content Cloud is a content-as-a-service solution that enables simplified, headless content creation and syndication across multi-channel digital experiences.

For now, we are launching an early access beta program. If you’re interested in being considered for the beta or want to learn more as Content Cloud moves toward general availability, you can sign up here.

In time, I plan to write more about Content Cloud, especially as we get closer to its initial release. Until then, you can watch the Acquia Content Cloud teaser video below:


Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Acquia acquires Mautic to create the Open Digital Experience Platform

I'm happy to announce today that Acquia acquired Mautic, an open source marketing automation and campaign management platform.

A couple of decades ago, I was convinced that every organization required a website — a thought that sounds rather obvious now. Today, I am convinced that every organization will need a Digital Experience Platform (DXP).

Having a website is no longer enough: customers expect to interact with brands through their websites, email, chat and more. They also expect these interactions to be relevant and personalized.

If you don't know Mautic, think of it as an alternative to Adobe's Marketo or Salesforce's Marketing Cloud. Just like these solutions, Mautic provides marketing automation and campaign management capabilities. It's differentiated in that it is easier to use, supports one-to-one customer experiences across many channels, integrates more easily with other tools, and is less expensive.

The flowchart style visual campaign builder you saw in the beginning of the Mautic demo video above is one of my favorite features. I love how it allows marketers to combine content, user profiles, events and a decision engine to deliver the best-next action to customers.

Mautic is a relatively young company, but has quickly grown into the largest open source player in the marketing automation space, with more than 200,000 installations. Its ease of use, flexibility and feature completeness has won over many marketers in a very short time: the company's top-line grew almost 400 percent year-over-year, its number of customers tripled, and Mautic won multiple awards for product innovation and customer service.

The acquisition of Mautic accelerates Acquia's product strategy to deliver the only Open Digital Experience Platform:

The pieces that make up a Digital Experience Platform, and how Mautic fits into Acquia's Open Digital Experience Platform. Acquia is strong in content management, personalization, user profile management and commerce (yellow blocks). Mautic adds or improves Acquia's multi-channel delivery, campaign management and journey orchestration capabilities (purple blocks).There are many reasons why we like Mautic, but here are my top 3:

Reason 1: Disrupting the market with "open"

Open Source will disrupt every component of the modern technology stack. It's not a matter of if, it's when.

Just as Drupal disrupted web content management with Open Source, we believe Mautic disrupts marketing automation.

With Mautic, Acquia is now the only open and open source alternative to the expensive, closed, and stagnant marketing clouds.

I'm both proud and excited that Acquia is doubling down on Open Source. Given our extensive open source experience, we believe we can help grow Mautic even faster.

Reason 2: Innovating through integrations

To build an optimal customer experience, marketers need to integrate with different data sources, customer technologies, and bespoke in-house platforms. Instead of buying a suite from a single vendor, most marketers want an open platform that allows for open innovation and unlimited integrations.

Only an open architecture can connect any technology in the marketing stack, and only an open source innovation model can evolve fast enough to offer integrations with thousands of marketing technologies (to date, there are 7,000 vendors in the martech landscape).

Because developers are largely responsible for creating and customizing marketing platforms, marketing technology should meet the needs of both business users and technology architects. Unlike other companies in the space, Mautic is loved by both marketers and developers. With Mautic, Acquia continues to focus on both personas.

Reason 3: The same technology stack and business model

Like Drupal, Mautic is built in PHP and Symfony, and like Drupal, Mautic uses the GNU GPL license. Having the same technology stack has many benefits.

Digital agencies or in-house teams need to deliver integrated marketing solutions. Because both Drupal and Mautic use the same technology stack, a single team of developers can work on both.

The similarities also make it possible for both open source communities to collaborate — while it is not something you can force to happen, it will be interesting to see how that dynamic naturally plays out over time.

Last but not least, our business models are also very aligned. Both Acquia and Mautic were "born in the cloud" and make money by offering subscription- and cloud-based delivery options. This means you pay for only what you need and that you can focus on using the products rather than running and maintaining them.

Mautic offers several commercial solutions:

Mautic Cloud, a fully managed SaaS version of Mautic with premium features not available in Open Source.
For larger organizations, Mautic has a proprietary product called Maestro. Large organizations operate in many regions or territories, and have teams dedicated to each territory. With Maestro, each territory can get its own Mautic instance, but they can still share campaign best-practices, and repeat successful campaigns across territories. It's a unique capability, which is very aligned with the Acquia Cloud Site Factory.
Try Mautic

If you want to try Mautic, you can either install the community version yourself or check out the demo or sandbox environment of Mautic Open Marketing Cloud.

Conclusion

We're very excited to join forces with Mautic. It is such a strategic step for Acquia. Together we'll provide our customers with more freedom, faster innovation, and more flexibility. Open digital experiences are the way of the future.

I've got a lot more to share about the Mautic acquisition, how we plan to integrate Mautic in Acquia's solutions, how we could build bridges between the Drupal and Mautic community, how it impacts the marketplace, and more.

In time, I'll write more about these topics on this blog. In the meantime, please feel free to join DB Hurley, Mautic's founder and CTO, and me in a live Q&A session on Thursday, May 9 at 10am ET. We'll try to answer your questions about Acquia and Mautic.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Should Product Marketing report to Product or Marketing?

Product marketing teams are responsible for bringing products to market and championing their success and adoption. To make this happen, they work closely with three sets of key stakeholders: the product team (development/engineering), the marketing team and the sales team.
In some organizations, product marketing reports to marketing. In other organizations, it reports to product. The most common pattern is for product marketing teams to live in marketing, but in my opinion, a product marketing organization should sit where the highest frequency of communication and collaboration is needed. That can depend on the type of product, but also the maturity of the product.
For new products, companies with an evolving product strategy, or very technical products, it make most sense for product marketing to report directly to the product team. For mature and steady products, it makes sense for product marketing to report into marketing.
This reporting structure matters in that it facilitates communication and alignment.
For example, Acquia has recently decided to restructure product marketing to report to the product team, rather than marketing. We made this decision because there has been a lot of change and growth on the product front. With product marketing embedded into the product team at Acquia, we will ensure that we can bring the right messaging to the market quickly.
We've also added to our product leadership team, hiring an SVP of Product Marketing, Tom Wentworth to work closely with Matt Kaplan, our SVP of Product, and me. Those of you who have followed Acquia's story may know Tom as our former CMO and head of product marketing. You can read more about it in Tom's blog post — he explains why he rejoined Acquia, but also provides some great content management history.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Relentlessly eliminating barriers to growth

In my last blog post, I shared that when Acquia was a small startup, we were simultaneously focused on finding product-market fit and eliminating barriers to future growth.

Today, Acquia is no longer a startup, but eliminating barriers to growth remains very important after you have outgrown the startup phase. In that light, I loved reading Eugene Wie's blog post called, Invisible asymptotes. Wie was a product leader at Amazon. In his blog post he explains how Amazon looks far into the future, identifies blockers for long-term growth, and turns eliminating these stagnation points into multi-decade efforts.

For example, Amazon considered shipping costs to be a growth blocker, or as Wie describes it, an invisible asymptote for growth. People hate paying for shipping costs, so Amazon decided to get rid of them. At first, solving this looked prohibitively expensive. How can you offer free shipping to millions of customers? Solving for this limitation became a multi-year effort. First, Amazon tried to appease customers' distaste for shipping fees with "Super Saver Shipping". Amazon introduced Super Saver Shipping in January 2002 for orders over $99. If you placed an order of $99 or more, you received free shipping. In the span of a few months, that number dropped to $49 and then to $25. Eventually this strategy led to Amazon Prime, making all shipping "free". While a program like Amazon Prime doesn't actually make shipping free, it feels free to the customer, which effectively eliminates the barrier for growth. The impact on Amazon's growth was tremendous. Today, Amazon Prime provides Amazon an economic moat, or a sustainable competitive advantage – it isn't easy for other retailers to compete from a sheer economic and logistical standpoint.

Another obstacle for Amazon's growth was shipping times. People don't like having to wait for days to receive their Amazon purchase. Several years ago, I was talking to Werner Vogels, Amazon's global CTO, and asked him where most commerce investments were going. He responded that reducing shipping times was more strategic than making improvements to the commerce backend or website. As Wie points out in his blog, Amazon has been working on reducing shipping times for over a decade. First by building a higher density network of distribution centers, and more recently through delivery from local Whole Foods stores, self-service lockers at Whole Foods, predictive or anticipatory shipping, drone delivery, and more. Slowly, but certainly, Amazon is building out its own end-to-end delivery network with one primary objective: reducing shipping speeds.

Every organization has limitations that stunt long-term growth so there are a few important lessons that can be learned from how Amazon approached its invisible asymptotes:

Identify your invisible asymptotes or long-term blockers for growth.
Removing these long-term blockers for growth may look impossible at first.
Removing these long-term blockers requires creativity, patience, persistence and aggressive capital allocation. It can take many initiatives and many years to eliminate them.
Overcoming these obstacles can be a powerful strategy that can unlock unbelievable growth.
I spend a lot of time and effort working on eliminating Drupal's and Acquia's growth barriers so I love these kind of lessons. In a future blog post, I'll share my thoughts about Drupal's growth blockers. In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you think is holding Drupal or Acquia back — be it via social media, email or preferably your own blog.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Optimizing your product strategy for the short- and long-term

Most products cycle through the infamous Innovation S-curve, which maps a product's value and growth over time.

Startups are eager to find product-market fit, the inflection point in which the product takes off and experiences hockey-stick growth (the transition from phase one to phase two).

Just as important, however, is the stagnation point, or the point later in the S-curve when a product experiences growth stagnation (the transition from phase two to phase three). Many startups don't think about their stagnation point, but I believe they should, because it determines how big the product can become.

Ten years ago, a couple years after Acquia's founding, large organizations were struggling with scaling Drupal. I was absolutely convinced that Drupal could scale, but I also recognized that too few people knew how to scale Drupal successfully.

Furthermore, there was a lot of skepticism around Open Source scalability and security. People questioned whether a community of volunteers could create software as secure and scalable as their proprietary counterparts.

These struggles and concerns were holding back Drupal. To solve both problems, we built and launched Acquia Cloud, a platform to build, host and manage Drupal sites.

After we launched Acquia Cloud, Acquia grew from $1.4 million in bookings in 2009 to $8.7 million in bookings in 2010 (600% year-over-year growth), and to $22 million in bookings by 2011 (250% year-over-year growth). We had clearly found product-market fit!

Not only did it launch Acquia in rocket-ship growth, it also extended our stagnation point. We on-boarded many large organizations and showed that Drupal can scale very large. This helped unlock a lot of growth for both Drupal and Acquia. I can say with certainty that many large organizations that use Drupal would not have adopted Drupal without Acquia.

Helping to grow Drupal — or extending Drupal's stagnation point — was always part of Acquia's mission. From day one, we understood that for Acquia to grow, Drupal had to grow.

Launching Acquia Cloud was a great business decision for Acquia; it gave us product-market fit, launched us in hockey-stick growth, but also extended our S-curve.

As I think back about how Acquia approached the Innovation S-curve, a few important lessons stand out. My recommendation is to focus on opportunities that accomplish two things:
Focus on business opportunities that serve a burning customer need that can launch or accelerate your organization.
Focus on business opportunities that remove long-term barriers to growth and push out the stagnation point.

Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


The ebbs and flows of software organizations

This week I was in New York for a day. At lunch, Sir Martin Sorrell pointed out that Microsoft overtook Apple as the most valuable software company as measured by market capitalization. It's a close call but Microsoft is now worth $805 billion while Apple is worth $800 billion.
What is interesting to me are the radical "ebbs and flows" of each organization.
In the 80's, Apple's market cap was twice that of Microsoft. Microsoft overtook Apple in the the early 90's, and by the late 90's, Microsoft's valuation was a whopping thirty-five times Apple's. With a 35x difference in valuation, no one would have guessed Apple to ever regain the number-one position. However, Apple did the unthinkable and regained its crown in market capitalization. By 2015, Apple was, once again, valued two times more than Microsoft.
And now, eighteen years after Apple took the lead, Microsoft has taken the lead again. Everything old is new again.
As you'd expect, the change in market capitalization corresponds with the evolution and commercial success of their product portfolios. In the 90s, Microsoft took the lead based on the success of the Windows operating system. Apple regained the crown in the 2000s based on the success of the iPhone. Today, Microsoft benefits from the rise of cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service and Open Source, while Apple is trying to navigate the saturation of the smartphone market.
It's unclear if Microsoft will maintain and extend its lead. On one hand, the market trends are certainly in Microsoft's favor. On the other hand, Apple still makes a lot more money than Microsoft. I believe Apple to be slightly undervalued, and Microsoft is to be overvalued. The current valuation difference is not justified.
At the end of the day, what I find to be most interesting is how both organizations have continued to reinvent themselves. This reinvention has happened roughly every ten years. During these periods of reinvention, organizations can fall out out favor for long stretches of time. However, as both organizations prove, it pays off to reinvent yourself, and to be patient product and market builders.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Drupal's commitment to accessibility

Last week, WordPress Tavern picked up my blog post about Drupal 8's upcoming Layout Builder.

While I'm grateful that WordPress Tavern covered Drupal's Layout Builder, it is not surprising that the majority of WordPress Tavern's blog post alludes to the potential challenges with accessibility. After all, Gutenberg's lack of accessibility has been a big topic of debate, and a point of frustration in the WordPress community.

I understand why organizations might be tempted to de-prioritize accessibility. Making a complex web application accessible can be a lot of work, and the pressure to ship early can be high.

In the past, I've been tempted to skip accessibility features myself. I believed that because accessibility features benefited a small group of people only, they could come in a follow-up release.

Today, I've come to believe that accessibility is not something you do for a small group of people. Accessibility is about promoting inclusion. When the product you use daily is accessible, it means that we all get to work with a greater number and a greater variety of colleagues. Accessibility benefits everyone.

As you can see in Drupal's Values and Principles, we are committed to building software that everyone can use. Accessibility should always be a priority. Making capabilities like the Layout Builder accessible is core to Drupal's DNA.

Drupal's Values and Principles translate into our development process, as what we call an accessibility gate, where we set a clearly defined "must-have bar". Prioritizing accessibility also means that we commit to trying to iteratively improve accessibility beyond that minimum over time.

Together with the accessibility maintainers, we jointly agreed that:
Our first priority is WCAG 2.0 AA conformance. This means that in order to be released as a stable system, the Layout Builder must reach Level AA conformance with WCAG. Without WCAG 2.0 AA conformance, we won't release a stable version of Layout Builder.
Our next priority is WCAG 2.1 AA conformance. We're thrilled at the greater inclusion provided by these new guidelines, and will strive to achieve as much of it as we can before release. Because these guidelines are still new (formally approved in June 2018), we won't hold up releasing the stable version of Layout Builder on them, but are committed to implementing them as quickly as we're able to, even if some of the items are after initial release.
While WCAG AAA conformance is not something currently being pursued, there are aspects of AAA that we are discussing adopting in the future. For example, the new 2.1 AAA "Animations from Interactions", which can be framed as an achievable design constraint: anywhere an animation is used, we must ensure designs are understandable/operable for those who cannot or choose not to use animations.
Drupal's commitment to accessibility is one of the things that makes Drupal's upcoming Layout Builder special: it will not only bring tremendous and new capabilities to Drupal, it will also do so without excluding a large portion of current and potential users. We all benefit from that!
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


How NBC Sports supports the biggest media events online

Many of Acquia's customers have hundreds or even thousands of sites, which vary in terms of scale, functionality, longevity and complexity.

One thing that is very unique about Acquia is that we can help organizations scale from small to extremely large, one to many, and coupled to decoupled. This scalability and flexibility is quite unique, and allows organizations to standardize on a single web platform. Standardizing on a single web platform not only removes the complexity from having to manage dozens of different technology stacks and teams, but also enables organizations to innovate faster.

A great example is NBC Sports Digital. Not only does NBC Sports Digital have to manage dozens of sites across 30,000 sporting events each year, but it also has some of the most trafficked sites in the world.

In 2018, Acquia supported NBC Sports Digital as it provided fans with unparalleled coverage of Super Bowl LII, the Pyeongchang Winter Games and the 2018 World Cup. As quoted in NBC Sport's press release, NBC Sports Digital streamed more than 4.37 billion live minutes of video, served 93 million unique users, and delivered 721 million minutes of desktop video streamed. These are some of the highest trafficked events in the history of the web, and I'm very proud that they are powered by Drupal and Acquia.

To learn more about how Acquia helps NBC Sports Digital deliver more than 10,000 sporting events every year, watch my conversation with Eric Black, CTO of NBC Sports Digital, in the video below:

Not every organization gets to entertain 100 million viewers around the world, but every business has its own World Cup. Whether it's Black Friday, Mother's Day, a new product launch or breaking news, we offer our customers the tools and services necessary to optimize efficiency and provide flexibility at any scale.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


How Wendy's sells fresh, never-frozen hamburgers online

During the Innovation Showcase at Acquia Engage, I invited Mike Mancuso, head of digital analytics at Wendy's, on stage. Wendys.com is a Drupal site running on Acquia Cloud, and welcomes 30 million unique visitors a year. Wendy's also uses Acquia Lift to deliver personalized and intelligent experiences to all 30 million visitors.

In the 8-minute video below, Mike explains how Wendy's engages with its customers online.

For the occasion, the team at Wendy's decided to target Acquia Engage attendees. If you visited Wendys.com from Acquia Engage, you got the following personalized banner. It's a nice example of what you can do with Acquia Lift.

As part of my keynote, we also demoed the next generation of Acquia Lift, which will be released in early 2019. In 2018, we decided that user experience always has to come first. We doubled our design and user experience team and changed our product development process to reflect this priority. The upcoming version of Acquia Lift is the first example of that. It offers more than just a fresh UI; it also ships with new features to simplify how marketers create campaigns. If you want a preview, have look at the 9-minute video below!


Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Acquia Engage 2018 keynote

Acquia Engage attendees that arrived at the Austin airport were greeted by an Acquia banner!
Last week, Acquia welcomed more than 600 attendees to the fifth annual Acquia Engage Conference in Austin, Texas. During my keynote, my team and I talked about Acquia's strategy, recent product developments, and our product roadmap. I also had the opportunity to invite three of our customers on stage — Paychex, NBC Sports, and Wendy's — to hear how each organization is leveraging the Acquia Platform.

All three organizations demonstrate incredible use cases, and I invite you to watch the recording of the Innovation Showcase (78 minutes) or download a copy of my slides (219 MB).

I also plan to share more in-depth blog posts on my conversations with Wendy’s, NBC Sports, and Paychex’s next week.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Why Drupal's Layout Builder is so powerful and unique

Content authors want an easy-to-use page building experience; they want to create and design pages using drag-and-drop and WYSIWYG tools. For over a year the Drupal community has been working on a new Layout Builder, which is designed to bring this page building capability into Drupal core.

Drupal's upcoming Layout Builder is unique in offering a single, powerful visual design tool for the following three use cases:
Layouts for templated content. The creation of "layout templates" that will be used to layout all instances of a specific content type (e.g. blog posts, product pages).
Customizations to templated layouts. The ability to override these layout templates on a case-by-case basis (e.g. the ability to override the layout of a standardized product page)
Custom pages. The creation of custom, one-off landing pages not tied to a content type or structured content (e.g. a single "About us" page).
Let's look at all three use cases in more detail to explain why we think this is extremely useful!

Use case 1: Layouts for templated content

For large sites with significant amounts of content it is important that the same types of content have a similar appearance.

A commerce site selling hundreds of different gift baskets with flower arrangements should have a similar layout for all gift baskets. For customers, this provides a consistent experience when browsing the gift baskets, making them easier to compare. For content authors, the templated approach means they don't have to worry about the appearance and layout of each new gift basket they enter on the site. They can be sure that once they have entered the price, description, and uploaded an image of the item, it will look good to the end user and similar to all other gift baskets on the site.

Drupal 8's new Layout Builder allows a site creator to visually create a layout template that will be used for each item of the same content type (e.g. a "gift basket layout" for the "gift basket" content type). This is possible because the Layout Builder benefits from Drupal's powerful "structured content" capabilities.

Many of Drupal's competitors don't allow such a templated approach to be designed in the browser. Their browser-based page builders only allow you to create a design for an individual page. When you want to create a layout that applies to all pages of a specific content type, it is usually not possible without a developer.

Use case 2: Customizations to templated layouts

While having a uniform look for all products of a particular type has many advantages, sometimes you may want to display one or more products in a slightly (or dramatically) different way.

Perhaps a customer recorded a video of giving their loved one one of the gift baskets, and that video has recently gone viral (because somehow it involved a puppy). If you only want to update one of the gift baskets with a video, it may not make sense to add an optional "highlighted video" field to all gift baskets.

Drupal 8's Layout Builder offers the ability to customize templated layouts on a case per case basis. In the "viral, puppy, gift basket" video example, this would allow a content creator to rearrange the layout for just that one gift basket, and put the viral video directly below the product image. In addition, the Layout Builder would allow the site to revert the layout to match all other gift baskets once the world has moved on to the next puppy video.

Since most content management systems don't allow you to visually design a layout pattern for certain types of structured content, they of course can't allow for this type of customization.

Use case 3: Custom pages (with unstructured content)

Of course, not everything is templated, and content authors often need to create one-off pages like an "About us" page or the website's homepage.

In addition to visually designing layout templates for different types of content, Drupal 8's Layout Builder can also be used to create these dynamic one-off custom pages. A content author can start with a blank page, design a layout, and start adding blocks. These blocks can contain videos, maps, text, a hero image, or custom-built widgets (e.g. a Drupal View showing a list of the ten most popular gift baskets). Blocks can expose configuration options to the content author. For instance, a hero block with an image and text may offer a setting to align the text left, right, or center. These settings can be configured directly from a sidebar.

In many other systems content authors are able to use drag-and-drop WYSIWYG tools to design these one-off pages. This type of tool is used in many projects and services such as Squarespace and the new Gutenberg Editor for WordPress (now available for Drupal, too!).

On large sites, the free-form page creation is almost certainly going to be a scalability, maintenance and governance challenge.

For smaller sites where there may not be many pages or content authors, these dynamic free-form page builders may work well, and the unrestricted creative freedom they provide might be very compelling. However, on larger sites, when you have hundreds of pages or dozens of content creators, a templated approach is going to be preferred.

When will Drupal's new Layout Builder be ready?

Drupal 8's Layout Builder is still a beta level experimental module, with 25 known open issues to be addressed prior to becoming stable. We're on track to complete this in time for Drupal 8.7's release in May 2018. If you are interested in increasing the likelihood of that, you can find out how to help on the Layout Initiative homepage.

An important note on accessibility

Accessibility is one of Drupal's core tenets, and building software that everyone can use is part of our core values and principles. A key part of bringing Layout Builder functionality to a "stable" state for production use will be ensuring that it passes our accessibility gate (Level AA conformance with WCAG and ATAG). This holds for both the authoring tool itself, as well as the markup that it generates. We take our commitment to accessibility seriously.
Impact on contributed modules and existing sites

Currently there a few methods in the Drupal module ecosystem for creating templated layouts and landing pages, including the Panels and Panelizer combination. We are currently working on a migration path for Panels/Panelizer to the Layout Builder.

The Paragraphs module currently can be used to solve several kinds of content authoring use-cases, including the creation of custom landing pages. It is still being determined how Paragraphs will work with the Layout Builder and/or if the Layout Builder will be used to control the layout of Paragraphs.

Conclusion

Drupal's upcoming Layout Builder will be unique in the market in that it supports multiple different use cases; from templated layouts that can be applied to dozens or hundreds of pieces of structured content, to designing custom one-off pages with unstructured content. The Layout Builder is even more powerful when used in conjunction with Drupal's other out-of-the-box features such as revisioning, content moderation, and translations, but that is a topic for a future blog post.

Special thanks to Ted Bowman (Acquia) for co-authoring this post. Also thanks to Wim Leers (Acquia), Angie Byron (Acquia), Alex Bronstein (Acquia), Jeff Beeman (Acquia) and Tim Plunkett (Acquia) for their feedback during the writing process.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Acquia partners with BigCommerce

Today, Acquia announced a partnership with BigCommerce, a leading cloud commerce platform. BigCommerce recently launched a headless commerce solution called BigCommerce Commerce-as-a-Service to complement its "traditional" commerce solutions. Acquia's partnership with BigCommerce will center around this Commerce-as-a-Service solution to enable customers to take advantage of headless commerce architectures, while leveraging Drupal and Acquia to power content-rich shopping experiences.
With BigCommerce and Acquia, brands can use a commerce-as-a-service approach to quickly build an online store and oversee product management and transactional data. The front-end of the commerce experience will be powered by Drupal, built and managed using the Acquia Platform, and personalized with Acquia Lift.
This month, Acquia has been focused on expanding our partnerships with headless commerce vendors. This announcement comes on the heels of our partnership with Elastic Path. Our partnership with BigCommerce not only reinforces our belief in headless commerce, but also our commitment to a best-of-breed commerce strategy that puts the needs of our customers first.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


The rise of headless commerce

Today, Acquia announced a partnership with Elastic Path, a headless commerce platform. In this post, I want to explore the advantages of headless commerce and the opportunity it holds for both Drupal and Acquia.

The advantages of headless commerce

In a headless commerce approach, the front-end shopping experience is decoupled from the commerce business layer. Headless commerce platforms provide a clean separation between the front end and back end; the shopping experience is provided by Drupal and the commerce business logic is provided by the commerce platform. This decoupling provides advantages for the developer, merchant and shopping experience.

For developers, it means that you can decouple both the development and the architecture. This allows you to build an innovative shopping experience without having to worry about impacting a system as critical as your commerce backend. For instance, you can add ratings and reviews to your shopping experience without having to redeploy your commerce platform.
For merchants, it can provide a better experience for administering the shop. Traditional commerce solution usually ship with a lightweight content management system. This means that there can be competition over which system provides the experience layer (i.e. the "glass"). This can introduce overlap in functionality; both systems offer ways to manage URLs, create landing pages, manage user access rights, etc. Because headless commerce systems are designed from the ground up to integrate with other systems, there is less duplication of functionality. This provides a streamlined experience for merchants.
And last but not least, there is the shopping experience for end-users or consumers. Simply put, consumers are demanding better experiences when they shop online. They want editorials, lookbooks, tutorials, product demonstration videos, testimonials, and more. They want the content-rich experiences that a comprehensive content management system can provide.
All this is why Acquia is excited about our partnership with Elastic Path. I believe the partnership is a win-win-win. It's a win for Acquia because we are now better equipped than ever to offer personal, unique and delightful shopping experiences. It is a win for Elastic Path as they have the opportunity to provide contextual commerce solutions to any Acquia customer. Last but not least, it's a win for Drupal because it will introduce more organizations to the project.

Note that many of the above integration challenges don't apply to native solutions like Drupal Commerce for Drupal or WooCommerce for WordPress. It only applies when you have to integrate two entirely different systems. Integrating two different systems is a common use case, because customers either already have a commerce platforms in place that they don't want to replace, or because native solutions don't meet their needs.

Acquia's commitment to best of breed

Acquia remains committed to a best-of-breed strategy for commerce. There isn't a single commerce platform that meets the needs of all our customers. This belief comes from years of experience in the field. Acquia's customers want to integrate with a variety of commerce systems such as Elastic Path, SAP Hybris, Salesforce Commerce Cloud (Demandware), Magento, BigCommerce, Reaction Commerce, Oracle ATG, Moltin, and more. Our customers also want to use Drupal Commerce, Drupal's native commerce solution. We believe customers should be able to integrate Drupal with their commerce management solutions of choice.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


What's new in the Commerce 2.10 release?

We made many important improvements to Drupal Commerce over the summer, including an improved promotions UI, BOGO offers, and product category conditions in the 2.8 release and full list price support with the 2.9 release. After a long sprint to the finish, we’ve now finally released 2.10, one of our largest releases to date that resolves 39 issues and feature requests.

Product administration improvements

Six years ago we released the first stable version of Commerce Kickstart 2.x and the new (at the time) Inline Entity Form module, which allowed us to manage multiple product variations from a single product page form for the first time. Since then, Inline Entity Form has become a popular Drupal module and a recommended way to manage products in Drupal 7. When we started developing Commerce 2.x for Drupal 8, we ported over Inline Entity Form and the previous approach to managing products, but now we’re ready to take another step forward to advance the usability and performance of product management.

As of the 2.10 release, product variations are managed on their own tab of the product page form. This follows the same UI pattern we established for coupons within the promotions UI.

Product variations shown on their own tab.

Moving variations to their own tab allows us to extend the UI in future releases, specifically to add bulk operations for tasks such as price updates, image replacement, and even the creation of a full set of variations. We foresee other modules adding their own elements to the tab, like the Commerce Pricelist module adding a “Prices” dropbutton item to provide quick access to every price for a variation on multiple price lists.

Having variations on a separate tab would be a bit much for products that always only have a single variation, so we’ve made sure to accommodate that use case in the new version. Each product type’s settings form includes an “Allow each product to have multiple variations.” option that when disabled reverts to the inline editing experience for products of that type.

Inline product editing for single variations.

Query access filtering

If you create a new role for your merchant and only give it the “Book: View products” permission, you’d expect users with that role to be able to book products but no others. In Drupal 7, our solution for this was a generic query access API in Drupal Commerce itself that filtered entity loading queries based on user permissions.

To achieve this same result in Drupal 8, we've rebuilt this API and added it to the recent 8.x-1.0-rc1 release of the Entity API module. Commerce is now using it for administrative listings of products, orders, and stores. The API adds a QueryAccessEvent to allow modules to alter the access conditions, making it possible to apply further filtering (e.g. only show the user’s own store). Next we will extend the filtering to Search API to filter customer facing listings.

User-driven API improvements

Over 4,000 websites have launched on Commerce 2.x in the past year, pushing us up over 6,000 in total. As developers launch their projects, we keep our lines of communication open to hear about all the things that annoyed or hindered them, and we work to improve our APIs as a result. Several examples that made it into this release include:

(Note that as a result of the last two, if you have overridden the PaymentInformation or PaymentProcess panes on your site, you will need to update them for the new release.)

We love to hear stories of the great things you’re doing with Drupal Commerce, and we’d also love to improve the core APIs and data model to better support you, too. Feel free to join us and hundreds of other developers in the #commerce channel on Drupal Slack for real-time discussion or post your proposals directly to the issue queue for discussion.


Source: Reposted from: drupalcommerce.org


From a world wide web to a personal web

Last week, I had a chance to meet with Inrupt, a startup founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. Inrupt is based in Boston, so their team stopped by the Acquia office to talk about the new company.

To learn more about Inrupt's founding, I recommend reading Tim Berners-Lee's blog or Inrupt's CEO John Bruce's announcement.

Inrupt is on an important mission

Inrupt's mission is to give individuals control over their own data. Today, a handful of large platform companies (such as Facebook) control the media and flow of information for a majority of internet users. These companies have profited from centralizing the Open Web and lack transparent data privacy policies on top of that. Inrupt's goal is not only to improve privacy and data ownership, but to take back power from these large platform companies.

Inrupt will leverage Solid, an open source, decentralized web platform that Tim and others have been developing at MIT. Solid gives users a choice of where their personal data is stored, how specific people and groups can access select elements, and which applications can use it. Inrupt is building a commercial ecosystem around Solid to fuel its success. If Solid and/or Inrupt are widely adopted, it could radically change the way web sites and web applications work today.

As an advocate for the Open Web, I'm excited to see how Inrupt's mission continues to evolve. I've been writing about the importance of the Open Web for many years and even proposed a solution that mirrors Solid, which I called a Personal Information Broker. For me, this is an especially exciting and important mission, and I'll be rooting for Inrupt's success.

My unsolicited advice: disrupt the digital marketing world

It was really interesting to have the Inrupt team visit the Acquia office, because we had the opportunity to discuss how their technology could be applied. I shared a suggestion to develop a killer application that surround "user-controlled personalization".

Understanding visitors' interests and preferences to deliver personalized experiences is a big business. Companies spend a lot of time and effort trying to scrape together information about its website's visitors. However, behavior-based personalization can be slow and inaccurate. Marketers have to guess a visitor's intentions by observing their behavior; it can take a long time to build an accurate profile.

By integrating with a "Personal Information Broker" (PIB), marketers could get instant user profiles that would be accurate. When a user visits a site, they could chose to programmatically share some personal information (using a standard protocol and standard data schema). After a simple confirmation screen, the PIB could programmatically share that information and the site would instantly be optimized for the user. Instead of getting "cold leads" and trying to learn what each visitor is after, marketers could effectively get more "qualified leads".

It's a win not only for marketers, but a win for the site visitor too. To understand how this could benefit site visitors, let's explore an example. I'm 6'5" tall, and using a commerce site to find a pair of pants that fit can be a cumbersome process. I wouldn't mind sharing some of my personal data (e.g. inseam, waist size, etc) with a commerce site if that meant I would instantly be recommended pants that fit based on my preferences. Or if the store has no pants that would fit, it could just tell me; Sorry, we currently have no pants long enough for you!. It would provide me a much better shopping experience, making it much more likely for me to come back and become a long-time customer.

It's a simple idea that provides a compelling win-win for both the consumer and retailer, and has the opportunity to disrupt the digital sales and marketing world. I've been thinking a lot about user-controlled personalization over the past few years. It's where I'd like to take Acquia Lift, Acquia's own personalization product.

Inrupt's success will depend on good execution

I love what Solid and Inrupt are building because I see a lot of potential in it. Disrupting the digital marketing world is just one way the technology could be applied. Whatever they decide to focus on, I believe they are onto something important that could be a foundational component of the future web.

However, it takes a lot more than a good idea to build a successful company. For startups, it's all about good execution, and Inrupt has a lot of work to do. Right now, Inrupt has prototype technology that needs to be turned into real solutions. The main challenge is not building the technology, but to have it widely adopted.

For an idea this big, Inrupt will have to develop a protocol (something Tim Berners-Lee obviously has a lot of experience with), build out a leading Open Source reference implementation, and foster a thriving community of developers that can help build integrations with Drupal, WordPress and hundreds of other web applications. Last but not least, Inrupt needs to look for a sustainable business model by means of value-added services.

The good news is that by launching their company now, Inrupt has put themselves on the map. With Tim Berners-Lee's involvement, Inrupt should be able to attract top talent and funding for years to come.

Long story short, I like what Inrupt is doing and believe it has a lot of potential. I'm not sure what specific problem and market they'll go after, but I think they should consider going after "user-controlled personalization" and disrupt the digital marketing world. Regardless, I'll be paying close attention, will be cheering for their success and hopefully find a way to integrate it in Acquia Lift!
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


A plan for Drupal and Composer

At DrupalCon Nashville, we launched a strategic initiative to improve support for Composer in Drupal 8. To learn more, you can watch the recording of my DrupalCon Nashville keynote or read the Composer Initiative issue on Drupal.org.

While Composer isn't required when using Drupal core, many Drupal site builders use it as the preferred way of assembling websites (myself included). A growing number of contributed modules also require the use of Composer, which increases the need to make Composer easier to use with Drupal.

The first step of the Composer Initiative was to develop a plan to simplify Drupal's Composer experience. Since DrupalCon Nashville, Mixologic, Mile23, Bojanz, Webflo, and other Drupal community members have worked on this plan. I was excited to see that last week, they shared their proposal.

The first phase of the proposal is focused on a series of changes in the main Drupal core repository. The directory structure will remain the same, but it will include scripts, plugins, and embedded packages that enable the bundled Drupal product to be built from the core repository using Composer. This provides users who download Drupal from Drupal.org a clear path to manage their Drupal codebase with Composer if they choose.

I'm excited about this first step because it will establish a default, official approach for using Composer with Drupal. That makes using Composer more straightforward, less confusing, and could theoretically lower the bar for evaluators and newcomers who are familiar with other PHP frameworks. Making things easier for site builders is a very important goal; web development has become a difficult task, and removing complexity out of the process is crucial.

It's also worth noting that we are planning the Automatic Updates Initiative. We are exploring if an automated update system can be build on top of the Composer Initiative's work, and provide an abstraction layer for those that don't want to use Composer directly. I believe that could be truly game-changing for Drupal, as it would remove a great deal of complexity.

If you're interested in learning more about the Composer plan, or if you want to provide feedback on the proposal, I recommend you check out the Composer Initiative issue and comment 37 on that issue.

Implementing this plan will be a lot of work. How fast we execute these changes depends on how many people will help. There are a number of different third-party Composer related efforts, and my hope is to see many of them redirect their efforts to make Drupal's out-of-the-box Composer effort better. If you're interested in getting involved or sponsoring this work, let me know and I'd be happy to connect you with the right people!
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net