Drupal 8: It’s Here!

Posted by Julia Koelsch & filed under Drupal.

It’s been almost 5 years in the making. Over 3200 individuals contributed their time to update code and documentation. Today, we are thrilled to help celebrate the release of Drupal 8!

Why are we at Spry Digital so excited? We have been enthusiastic supporters and users of Drupal. Drupal is a powerful content management framework that allows us to craft websites and web apps.

New Features

With Drupal 8, many of the things we like about Drupal 7 have been improved upon, and there are plenty of new features to make creating sites with Drupal a great experience. Our development team has been meeting weekly to get up to speed on the changes in Drupal 8. Here are some of the new features we can’t wait to use:

Content Authoring

The content editing experience is much improved, with CKEditor included out-of-the-box, inline editing capabilities, better previews, easier multilingual configuration, more field types, and many more smaller improvements to make it easier to manage content.

Front End Development

Front end developers got a lot of attention with Drupal 8, mainly with the switch of the template engine to Twig. Creating creating rich, interactive experiences will be an easier and more pleasant experience!

Back End Development

There are many changes under the hood that will make back-end developers excited to use Drupal 8. The underlying architecture was completely rewritten, and now leverages the Symfony framework. This means that Drupal is now object-oriented, and can take advantage of other third party libraries since it structured more like other popular PHP frameworks.

Retiring of D6

With the release of Drupal 8 comes a date for the end of life for Drupal 6: February 24th, 2016. When Drupal 6 was released, it was a great step forward for Drupal, and included many compelling features for its time. But that was 2008, which is a very long time on the internet, and it’s time to let D6 retire. What does this mean for D6 sites? After February 24h, Drupal will no longer release security or maintenance updates. In order to maintain a secure site, we encourage you to look at upgrading to Drupal 7 or 8. Email us if you would like to determine how your existing Drupal site can be upgraded.


The development effort for Drupal 8 also focused on stability and reliability, and many contributed modules have already been upgraded for Drupal 8. This means that the switch from using Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 will likely be swift.

We sincerely thank and congratulate all Drupal contributors, and look forward to all of the amazing things we will be able to do with Drupal 8!

Note: Join the St. Louis Drupal Users Group’s official launch party for Drupal 8 this Thursday night at Spry Digital!

DrupalCamp St. Louis Is Right Around the Corner

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Drupal.

Spry Digital is excited to announce the second inaugural DrupalCamp St. Louis. DrupalCamp STL.15 promises to be even bigger with a larger facility and an extended schedule. This year’s camp will span two days, June 20th through June 21st (with that Sunday hosting a code sprint for Drupal developers) and will be held downtown at Saint Louis University School of Law.

As Drupal developers, organizers (along with others in the St. Louis Drupal Users Group) and platinum sponsors of DrupalCamp STL.15, Spry Digital welcomes people of all skill levels wanting to learn about the Drupal content management system to attend this year’s DrupalCamp and be a part of the growing Drupal community in St. Louis.

St. Louis Drupal Users Group

St. Louis Drupal Users Group

With the increased space and time, The STLDUG was able to schedule more speakers than ever before while making room for code sprints on Sunday. Additionally, for the first time DrupalCamp will feature The Learning Lounge where new and intermediate Drupal users can brush up on their Drupal skills by spending one-on-one time with Drupal professionals.

The St. Louis Drupal Users Group has pulled together a great list of sessions to fill their two separate rooms. The Advanced Concepts Room has been set up for intermediate level Drupal developers looking to sharpen their skills on topics like securing your Drupal site and expanding your Drupal search. The Site Building Room will feature a mixture of beginner and intermediate topics like the basics of Git, the challenges of designing for a CMS, and successful content strategies.

DrupalCamp St. Louis Keynote Speaker Alina Mackenzie (alimac)

Keynote Speaker Alina Mackenzie (alimac)

This year’s keynote address, presented by Alina Mackenzie, will focus on why and how to become a part of the Drupal community. Based in Chicago, IL, she works as a developer and system administrator. Within the Drupal community, she is a camp organizer, speaker, and communications leader for DrupalCon mentored sprints. We are confident that her passion for organizing will make a lasting impression on attendees and we’re excited to host Alina for her first DrupalCamp St. Louis.

Help us keep Drupal thriving in St. Louis and the Midwest! Register today – $25 includes the price of admission for both days, lunch and a t-shirt. We hope to see you there!

Mile-High Inspiration from DrupalCon 2012

Posted by Julia Koelsch & filed under Drupal.

I had the fantastic opportunity to attend DrupalCon 2012 for Spry Digital. We met many fellow Drupalers, attended tons of sessions, and enjoyed a pint or two of Denver’s finest brews. I was blown away by the quality of the presentations as well as the friendly and supportive community that make up the Drupal community. I’ve had a little time to reflect on the past week, and am really excited by some of the trends that emerged:

DrupalCon Denver 2012

Collaborative publishing for every device.

1. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile!

The theme for the conference was “Collaborative Publishing for Every Device”, and the message came through loud and clear. Luke Wroblewski, author of Mobile First, gave a compelling keynote address on this topic. I’m writing this post on a mobile device, and chances are that a significant portion of those reading this post will do so on a mobile device. How does this impact our site development process? It means that:

  • The focus must be on the primary content and message of your site. Clever design is great, but it’s wasted effort if a user can’t find the information they were looking for when viewing your website on a smartphone.
  • The days of optimizing for the average desktop screen resolution are over. Page content should shift as needed based on various screen resolutions, so don’t get hung up on the pixel-perfect desktop experience. Here’s a clever example that demonstrates how page elements can shift around.
  • Speed and page size optimization are as important as always, but it must be done carefully. Poorly optimized images look even worse on high-resolution screens like the latest iPhones and iPads.

2. CSS preprocessors are hot

The days of spaghetti CSS are numbered. With technologies like SASS, LESS, and many others, you can write cleaner markup and modularize your CSS. These technologies have been around for awhile now, but many sessions I attended demonstrated how easy it is to use them in your projects. As we rely more on CSS to provide a richer online experience to a broader range of devices, these tools will help maintain your sanity while maintaining your CSS.

3. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Websites

Many of the “coder” sessions I attended covered topics like security, performance, and the operations side of development. The Drupal platform is secure and performs great out of the box, but developers need to know how to write secure and well-optimized code, regardless of your language and platform of choice. Security covers many aspects: not just avoiding writing code that can be compromised, but also automating repeatable processes and monitoring all aspects of your environment to provide a rich set of data for trend analysis. Tools like Hudson can help automate repeatable processes like site deployments and cron jobs. Monitoring tools like Nagios can monitor and report on all aspects of your environment to ensure your site continues to be fast and secure.

One last observation – while I learned lots of great Drupal-specific techniques, much of what I took from this conference can be applied to any web development project.

Thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors that helped make DrupalCon such a worthwhile experience!

What To Expect From Drupalcon 2012

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under Drupal.

The Drupal community is converging in the Mile-High City for a week in March to discuss all things Drupal. In the past few years, the Drupal Association has made great strides in proving it’s case that Drupal is a feature-rich, full-fledged content management system and framework. With the release of its latest version, Drupal 7, Drupal made significant improvements in the area of theming and usability. It has also garnered attention from some big time adopters, like WhiteHouse.gov and many other government agencies. We use it extensively (especially for projects that require more complex data structures and permissions) so we’re excited to learn how the rest of the community is using it, and to learn what’s coming down the pipeline in future releases.

Drupalcon 2012 Denver

Drupalcon 2012 Denver

The tagline for this year’s event is “Collaborative Publishing To Every Device”. At its current pace, mobile traffic will surpass desktop traffic by 2013, so the focus of this year’s Drupalcon will be how to use Drupal in a more responsive manner, to accomodate a plethora of new devices and screen resolutions on which web sites are accessed. The Drupal core development team has been thinking about this, so it will be fascinating to learn about some of the responsive frameworks thats exist for Drupal, but also to learn about the features that will be baked into Drupal 8.

We will be at the event, covering topics from server environments, to development, to design and theming in a responsive world. Stay tuned to this space for more updates as we get closer to the event. If you want to learn how to get in touch with us while at Drupalcon, leave a comment and we will get in touch with you.

Manage Multiple Sites with Drupal and Domain Access

Posted by Sheila Burkett & filed under Drupal.

The ability to manage multiple websites (or domains) with one content management system (CMS) is just one of the challenges our clients encounter. Companies with a presence in multiple countries, or with key product lines that each have their own domain, face the obstacle of managing different websites. Drupal, DotNetNuke, SimpleCMS, WordPress, MovableType, Umbraco and Joomla all offer the ability to handle multiple sites with one installation. Here’s an example of how we helped one client manage multiple properties using Drupal.

domain access All Access, Inc. is an international company with a presence in Los Angeles, New York, UK, Paris, Brisbane and Sydney. Each country had their own web presence, web hosting and web marketing approach. All Access wanted visitors to choose a country (based on where the event is held), then go to the country-specific site. Each site needed to have the same look and feel, and publish locally created content as well as shared global content that could be managed centrally in Los Angeles.

The All Access website was built on Drupal with a customized theme. Spry Digital implemented the Domain Access module to provide the client the ability to have one look with country specific portals. We also implemented a custom landing page for the main domain (allaccessinc.com), that provides easy navigation to country-specific sites. The Domain Access module fit the bill by allowing each domain to have its own navigation and individual content, while permitting global content to be shared across domains. Problem solved.

Managing content for a website is challenging enough without multiple properties and domains to manage as well. Using a CMS, such as Drupal, with the Domain Access module, is a great way to minimize that time consuming task.